July 25, 2017

backontrack.pngREPUBLICANS PUT LIRR THIRD TRACK BACK ON TRACK

Less than two weeks after Republicans’ threat to veto the nearly $2 billion funding proposal to add a third track to the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), it appears that everyone, including Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) is now onboard. Prior to Flanagan’s announcement of his approval, two other staunch third track opponents (the villages of New Hyde Park and Floral Park) also gave their support to the project after reaching an agreement with the MTA which they believe will address their quality-of-life concerns. For more about this issue, see the related Newsday and LIBN articles.

Governor Cuomo, as the true “conductor” who drove this project forward, was honored by the Long Island Association (LIA) at a luncheon for nearly 1,000 people to celebrate the approval of the third track. During his speech, the Governor thanked many key organizations (including a mention of LICA and other industry and labor partners) who played important roles with their input and support, as well as the legislature and local political leaders. Cuomo stated that when done, these improvements will increase evening rush hour capacity by a staggering 81% and improve morning rush hour capacity by 67%. As part of the third track project, seven troublesome grade crossings will be redone or closed, and several bridges will be expanded and/or raised in height. A total of 39 stations are being rebuilt/improved including Hicksville – the busiest station on Long Island – and five new parking facilities will be added to accommodate a total of 3,500 more parking spots. He noted this massive project – which will be let as a single Design/Build bid - will be the “single largest infrastructure investment on Long Island”. And much to the delight of the large labor presence, Cuomo announced this will be built with all union labor.

The Governor also took the opportunity to boast about additional related mega-projects that are now moving forward including East Side Access, Second Avenue Subway, LaGuardia, JFK and of course, the new Penn Station-Farley complex with the new Moynihan Station train hall, which Cuomo claims will be completed sometime in 2020. The Governor emphasized the importance for New York and the rest of the country to continually update and improve our infrastructure, noting that these are “investments that pay multi-fold dividends”. 

High on Cuomo’s “to do” list is the crucial Gateway Project to replace the tunnel that goes from NY to NJ and serves as the mail rail corridor for the entire northeast region. The Governor claimed this is currently “the single most important infrastructure project in the US right now” but noted that we need to have a federal partner to get it done. Among the other projects the Governor hopes to see in our region include:

  • An international Republic Airportlia.png
  • Research Triangle
  • More Transit Oriented Developments
  • Tunnel from LI to CT or Westchester
  • LI Deep Water Port
  • Make LI the Solar and Wind Capital of our Region

County Executives Mangano and Bellone also spoke briefly. Both thanked the Governor profusely for his strong “leadership and partnership” and praised his dedication for making the LIRR Third Track a reality. Suffolk County Executive Bellone noted the Governor’s “thirst and hunger to get big things done” and said that kind of leadership and persistence is “an example of what we need to do on a local level”.

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