Assemblyman Ra Opines On LIRR 3rd Track

Many of my readers know that I have long been a supporter of the MTA Long Island Rail Road’s plan to build a third track on its main line between Floral Park & Hicksville. I’ve argued that this project should have taken priority over the ridiculous 7 line extension.

However not everyone has been a fan of the proposed project. Most of the sentiment against it was your classic NIMBY action in full effect. We can now add Assemblyman Ed Ra who wrote an editorial as seen in the Mineola Patch:

I was dismayed to hear MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota’s recent comment about our local communities’ opposition to the third track plan as “classic NIMBY.”

Common sense and a commitment to the suburban character of local neighborhoods have been the driving forces behind overwhelming and unwavering opposition to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) plan to add a third train track along the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) main line corridor, between Floral Park and Hicksville.

While some decry opposition to the third track as NIMBYISM, a thoughtful review of environmental, safety and community character impacts are among the real and significant issues that must be weighed against the dubious benefits touted by the MTA.

Tearing through residential neighborhoods, threatening a local park and destroying businesses during a difficult economy, a third track would redefine our suburbs in a profound and negative manner. Indeed, the MTA has even acknowledged that property acquisition, water and air pollution and increased noise and vibration were potential effects of the expansion. What’s more, potentially deadly pieces of steel and other debris from the train tracks have jettisoned into local homeowners’ yards, public areas and even an elementary school. This hazard would get worse if the MTA builds a third track, bringing dangerous debris close to homes, parks and other areas where people gather.

The third track project would also transform our suburbs into an urban environment, increasing train and car traffic and converting local train stations into major rail hubs like Jamaica train station. Finally, one of the MTA’s stated goals of accommodating reverse commuters is at total variance with my experiences at main line train stations. Specifically, reverse commuters constitute a very tiny, almost fledgling, contingent of passengers.

In conclusion, I believe that the sound and sensible position on the third track is to make a decision against pursuing the project. Destruction of our suburban character, adverse impact on businesses, environmental concerns, safety of area families and a host of other important quality-of-life issues far outweigh any dubious benefits such as serving a miniscule contingent of reverse commuters.

Clearly, common sense, not NIMBYISM, was the driving force behind almost 12,000 people signing petitions in opposition to a third track. Similarly, I strongly oppose any effort to resuscitate the ill-advised third track project.

Assemblyman Edward Ra
21st Assembly District

Surprise surprise, we have a clueless public official waxing poetic against what would actually benefit many LIRR riders. If you have traveled on the LIRR especially among the mainline like I have over the years, you would see how desperately needed a third track is to help better service that has room for a ton of improvement.

Instead of rallying with the MTA to get it done, we have a clueless official citing some ridiculous petition signed by people who only care about their own vested interests. Some of the excuses I have read include not wanting more noise, traffic, etc… Well a lot of these people should have thought about that before moving near the railroad. It is not like it was built overnight much to your surprise!

I found the comment left by “Candide08” to make a lot of sense as they had this to say:

Sorry Ed, NIMBY not common sense. The LIRR has had Third Track plans for many decades, people that moved into an area next to the LIRR could have and should have known about that when they moved in.

Now selfish parochial interests are preventing, or at least delaying and increasing expense, of a project that will directly benefit hundreds of thousands of commuters and will indirectly benefit millions – all so a few factually challenged people can play the NIMBY game.

A NIMBY named Bob Lofaro responded soon thereafter with this gem:

Candide08 – I moved to NHP with only two tracks, not three. I knew what I was getting then and know what I don’t want now. I don’t need to have all of Long Island’s freight travle through the local communities of Floral Park, NHP, Garden City, Westbury, Bellerose and Mineola. BTW, we fight against airplane noise as well because when we moved here, there weren’t thousands a flights a week. Isn’t it better to try to stop expansion now so in the future, someone like you doesn’t say, why complain, you knew there were three tracks when you moved to NHP. If you lived here, you would understand. Its not what’s in our back yard, but how much more in our back yard. Thanks Ed Ra for your support to bring what the MTA wants to impose upon us to light.

Sorry Bob but you are not right on this one. With your logic, we should never expand anything in our world because it might inconvenience a small group of people compared to the amount that would benefit. Yes, let’s see how long we survive with such “forward” thinking. People like Bob are why we lack the viable transit options that could benefit so many people.

xoxo Transit Blogger

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I disagree with your statement and agree with Bob. MTA and LIRR should think about how to make the existing infrastructure more efficient, by means of, say, better trains with higher capacity, or a faster rail network like Japan’s Shinkansen.
By choosing to build a 3rd track, MTA/LIRR goes with the cheaper/easier option, at the expenses of those who owns property along the rail.
Innovation and improvements of any service should never come at the expenses of someone.

Fabio the Maximum Authorized Speed on the Main Line in this section is 80MPH. You can’t expect a system in such a congested area to operate much faster than that, especially on a line which also has grade crossings. Also, just by the amount of traffic that is on this segment, the 80MPH is sometimes not even reached. A third track would allow for added capacity as well as better movement for reverse commuters during rush hour and even more efficient movement of freight.

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