The second track will be added in two phases, and will not expand beyond land already owned by the LIRR, so there will be no need to acquire private property. Phase 1, the segment between Ronkonkoma and Central Islip, is projected to be completed in 2016, and is fully funded. Phase 2, the segment between Central Islip and Farmingdale, is projected to be finished in 2018. An estimated 300 construction jobs will be created by this project. Phase 2, which is unfunded at this point, will cost about $300 million.
Another expected benefit will be an improvement in the reverse commute, west to east, and intra-Island transportation, easing access to MacArthur airport. And a reopening of the station at Republic Airport is also in the works. Reopening the Republic station would cost an additional $50 million. Other enhancements on track
Several other topics were raised in discussions the Herald had with Williams last week.
As part of the East Side Access Plan, service between Queens and Brooklyn will improve — the trip from the Jamaica station to the Atlantic Terminal will take 7½ minutes on a new direct shuttle.
At Penn Station, there are plans to improve signage and to reconfigure walkways, add sunlight and open up the interior.
Substations on the Long Beach line will be raised to protect against hurricane flooding damage, though there are no plans to elevate the line itself.
“I absolutely have a concern,” Williams said when asked whether ever-increasing train fares may at some point force LIRR costumers back into their cars.
She said that the cost of pensions and benefits drives the fare increases, and that she understands the conflict between commuters’ demand for “robust and frequent” service and the enormous expense of operating that service. Customers want more service, more efficient service, more frequent service and better, cleaner trains and stations, and those significant improvements cost more money. Fares paid by passengers cover only about 50 percent of the actual cost of a LIRR ride. The rest is made up by various state taxpayer subsidies to the MTA and LIRR.