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Letter: The LIRR Third Track

Living a stone’s throw from the LIRR main line for 48 years has given me a front row seat of various iterations of the Third Track Project costing from $195 million to $1.2 billion.

In the same 30-year period various iterations of replacing the Westbury Ellison Avenue Bridge have been put forth. Thank goodness there will be a new bridge soon. But how soon? Hopefully sooner than it took to eliminate the Mineola Roslyn Road at-grade crossing—eight years.

“The Economic and Fiscal Impacts of the Long Island Rail Road Main Line Third Track” study assumes construction would begin in 2020 and end in 2024. Will the project Draft Environmental Impact Statement come close to completion by 2020? Probably not since the study leaves out land acquisition and new rail yard construction costs. What land will be taken and where will the new rail yards be built?

I believe other important costs have been “excluded”—namely at-grade crossing elimination at, for instance, New Hyde Park Road on the New Hyde Park/Garden City border. The study notes that East Side Access will increase “gate-down” time at grade crossings on the main line, while the third track will have a smaller incremental increase in ‘gate-down” time. Put together, the New Hyde Park Road crossing gates would be down for 45 minutes an hour in the morning and evening rush hours.

No transit-oriented development can occur in towns with blaring train horns and “gates-down” for most minutes of the commuting hours of the day. Enhancing the east-west commute economy at the expense of the north-south commute economy is not the answer. Let’s have an honest discussion, with real numbers and comprehensive solutions, before we go down the path of skepticism , distrust, and complete lack of credibility.

— Edward W. Powers

New Hyde Park