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LIRR’s Third Track Needs Full Support Now—No More Local Stops Down The Line


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The time has come for Long Islanders to get all aboard the Long Island Rail Road’s third track proposal. As resurrected by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his state of the state address in January, the third track would run along a 9.8-mile stretch between Floral Park and Hicksville that serves 107,000 riders on an average weekday. During peak times, the LIRR is forced to run trains in only one direction, which becomes a huge bottleneck whenever equipment breaks down or some other unforeseen delay arises. This main line expansion is intended to relieve that decades-old bottleneck. But almost as soon as the governor announced it, community opposition—especially within Floral Park—was galvanized. Given the project’s troubled history, the protesters had good reason to raise their voices, especially since many who owned homes along the main line feared that their properties would be condemned by the “big bad” New York State. Recently, the Metropolitan  Transportation Authority released what’s known as scoping documents that say what will be included in the draft environmental impact statement, an important step in getting the once-estimated $1.5-billion project underway. While the final cost is still being calculated, the main aspects are clear. Essentially, the MTA is planning to plan. In its most recent iteration , the third track may not have as much impact on nearby residential properties as once was feared. Even better, the current project is expected to remain within the existing LIRR right-of-way and eliminate each of the seven grade crossings in the project’s corridor. This benefit alone is a sizable carrot to the municipalities protesting any expansion of the railroad. The MTA is also looking to require the acquisition of fewer than 10 commercial properties. As such, Long Island’s support for the third track should be a no-brainer—but only if the proper upgrades are made to the system in conjunction with the line expansion. These upgrades are needed to not only enhance the effectiveness of the third track project, but allow for the region to net the maximum benefits of other large-scale initiatives being undertaken by the LIRR such as East Side Access—now slated to be completed in 2023 (only 14 years later than first predicted and at $10.8 billion only $6.5 billion more than initially projected)—and the double track planned between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale to relieve congestion in that heavily traveled line.

 

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Source: https://www.longislandpress.com/2016/05/16/lirrs-third-track-needs-full-support-now-no-more-local-stops-down-the-line/

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