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MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) completed the first part of track installation for its double-track project, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday.
Track was laid between Central Islip and Ronkonkoma, N.Y., and work on the final phase between Central Islip and Farmingdale, N.Y., is underway, according to a press release issued by Cuomo's office. That final phase is on schedule to be completed in 2018. The LIRR's double-track project calls for adding 13 miles of parallel track along the railroad's Ronkonoma Branch, which serves more than 48,000 riders each weekday. The project is expected to "dramatically reduce delays" on the LIRR's system and enable more off-peak service in both directions, Cuomo's release said.With only one track along most of the Ronkonkoma Branch, LIRR can operate a limited number of trains and lacks "operational flexibility" in the event of a disruption. "Adding a second track to the Ronkonkoma Branch is a project has been talked about for decades, but was never set into motion," Cuomo said. "By pairing innovative equipment with our strategy of design-build construction, we are accelerating the pace of these types of critical infrastructure projects to improve Long Island commutes and strengthen the region's economy."The governor also joined Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast on a project site tour in Central Islip, where a new track construction machine laid the final stretch of track for the first phase.Funding for the $387.2 million project has been secured by Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Meanwhile, Cuomo announced the systemwide implementation of the MTA eTix mobile ticketing app on LIRR and MTA Metro-North Railroad. The app enables riders to board using their smartphones instead of paper tickets, as well as check schedules and see train service status.The app first became available June 30 on Metro-North's Hudson Line and LIRR's Port Washington Branch. In late July, the app debuted on Metro-North's Harlem Line.