On the Third Track Project

Assemblyman Ed Ra writes about the MTA’s plans for a third track.

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 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 

Assemblyman Edward Ra is a member of the New York State Assembly representing the 21st District. Due to 2012 redistricting, the new 19th District will cover portions of New Hyde Park, Garden City Park and Mineola. He is a Republican from Franklin Square.

Candide08 August 05, 2012 at 03:20 PM
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.
Bob Lofaro August 05, 2012 at 04:56 PM
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
Merrick7 August 06, 2012 at 04:47 PM
well some of Ed's comments are incorrect or exaggerated, I do not disagree that there are negatives but to claim only a "profound negative" impact is incorrect. What makes our area more desirable is to have more freight train traffic with the third rail so less trucks are on the road in local streets and main highways. Also with a third rail more frequent trains can occur and fewer shutdowns from a derailed train or one that has stopped working or signal trouble. Also cars would be less grid locked by removing them from at-grade which is not only dangerous to pedestrians and drivers but also causes traffic jams and more wait time. And more people using trains and less trucks decreases air pollution and storm water runoff. Also flying debris while not uncommon has already been cracked down upon thanks to Mineola and would get more stringent with more frequency from these united villages and civics. Also no main line train would become Jamaica rail hubs. They may get more train traffic, improved street scapeing and more parking, like done at Mineola and is being done at Hicksville. with revenues from this benefit also going to the villages. And the LIRR acknowledges low reverse commuters but that is why we add the third rail so we get more reverse commuters to increase economic activity. Please read a report as a public official it is an obligation to back up your statements with ACTUAL facts.
Candide08 August 08, 2012 at 12:48 PM
@Bob Lofaro - Airplane noise is not a proper comparison - as planes can change patterns and increase capacity without physical infrastructure. No, it is not better to stop expansion, that will benefit the WHOLE REGION, because you and a few, yes just a few, others chose to live in an area without fully considering your surroundings. The world cannot bend to suit you, sorry. If you buy a house with RR tracks in the backyard don't be surprised that there is a railroad in your backyard. A little checking when you bought the house could have easily uncovered these "third track" plans, which have been around for DECADES. You made a choice and now want progress for the whole region to stop because you did not realize the full implication of your choice? Please explain to me HOW that is not classic NIMBY?
Steve F August 10, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Merrick...considering the Jamaica hub cant handle the current volume of trains how could you ever think a THIRD line would be handled. As for candide, people like you knew what you bought when you bought a home without a good reverse commute.....deal with it or move to the city. No one says you have to live here with 2 tracks.
Candide08 August 10, 2012 at 12:41 PM
First, it's not just about more volume at Jamaica or just about the reverse commute. Jamaica can handle more volume and the rush hours can get longer, as they have for years. I suggest you brush up on some facts there Steve. A big advantage of a third track is "more slots" - flexibility. In the event of a problem, which occur nearly daily, trains for nearly the entire island would not back up, they could be re-routed.
fabiog December 03, 2012 at 08:55 PM
I think there's too much traffic in Manhattan. We should demolish all buildings and skyscrapers that go from battery park up to 172nd street and build an 8 track railway. we should also also eliminate central park, as it's useless space taken away from parking spots and our beloved cement. Good thinking Candide08, I'm sure you didn't get the joke of "we've also less horses and bayonettes"
Steve F December 04, 2012 at 12:39 AM
Fab there are no building restrictions in Manhattan due to it's current density? Are you telling me you can just continue to ADD buildings and traffic to Manhattan? Did NYC not ban cars down certain roadways? It's just like you live in a cave.


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