Tip O'Neill once said: "All politics is local." We should add, perhaps: "...and momentary."
The Long Island Transportation Plan 2000, as reported in the 6/25/00 edition of The New York Times, is yet, another example of politics blinded by short-term perspective. The plan calls for increasing various highways around the Island to six, eight, or even 10 lanes. For a drive time delay reduction of 12 percent, the cost will be $6.2 billion over 20 years.
$6.2 billion! Expected road trips will rise from the current 1.8 million to 2.3 million per day in 2020 and will include an increase from 72.9 percent in 1995 to 73.6 percent driving alone. From where will all these trips originate? Right from our towns and villages, of course. That means more cars per household, more energy consumption, more driveways paving over valuable land, more clamoring for parking lots, more pollution in the air and waterways surrounding and underneath us and more degradation of the essential pedestrian quality of villages like Sea Cliff.
The traffic concerns related to the Glen Cove ferry, which recently occupied a great deal of our village leaders' time and energy, pale in comparison to the traffic consequences of LITP2000. Urban renewal and automobile-centered suburbia have devastated the model of communal living that has worked well for thousands of years. We certainly don't need more of this type of planning. Where are our officials now? Do they have a plan for addressing the further erosion of village life that will likely result? The long-term effects are too important. Please, step forward.
The light rail proposal, which "looks dim," is in the right direction, but misses the point. We need trolleys from the local Long Island Rail Road stations into the heart of our villages, not a "shopping train" that does the Roosevelt Field to Melville loop. We need to connect the communities of the Island to each other, to the airports and waterfronts, so that the Long Island Rail Road might actually be that someday. We need multiple modes of transit, to diversify travel means with bike paths and rights-of-way, ample sidewalks and boardwalks, providing natural access to public space. We need to bring people to the core of our communities in order to restore their very function and purpose.
And for $6.2 billion, we can afford to do it. In fact, we can't afford not to!