NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Federal Railroad Administration has proposed massive improvements to Amtrak’s very congested Northeast Corridor.
One little known proposal calls for an all new route right through the heart of Long Island.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, by 2040, rail travel on Long Island could look a lot different, with Amtrak passenger trains barreling through.
The study by the Federal Railroad Administration said the Northeast Corridor must improve.
“Much of it is over 100 years old, so we are building infrastructure for our future,” said Rebecca Reyes-Alicea, Northeast Corridor Joint Program Manager for the Federal Railroad Administration.
The options include maintaining, growing, or transforming the route from Washington to New England.
One of those options traverses the heart of Long Island, and would extend Amtrak’s high speed rail line from Floral Park east to Ronkonkoma, then north to Port Jefferson continuing through a new Long Island Sound rail tunnel. The plan would have 75 trains per day linking Long Island and Boston.
“The Long Island option (Alternative 3) includes several options for adding a second spine to the Northeast Corridor. In one option, a two-track high-speed main line is added generally parallel to the existing Long Island Railroad right-of-way from Penn Station New York to Ronkonkoma, where it then heads north under the Long Island Sound to Connecticut, Hartford, and Boston. The separate alignment for the NEC second spine would enable LIRR to add its third track without interference. The second spine would be designed for high-speed limited-stop express intercity and commuter rail service to and from New York City,” the FRA explained.
The 160 mph trains would require new tracks. The report mentioned building a network of tunnels, embankments, elevated tracks, and trenches.
Time is running out for public comment but village mayors and residents appeared to be caught off guard.
“I never heard of this, what are you talking about?” one man said.
“There are a lot of moving pieces and a lot of local governments that are going to be caught blindsided,” Planning Columnist Richard Murdocco added.
Murdocco said the public has been left out.
“Politically it may be a non-starter, but what’s more concerning is the lack of public input in the process,” he said.
Some anticipate massive opposition.
“I think it’s ambitious. If you were starting from scratch, Long Island was an empty canvass, but today I don’t see that happening,” said Kevin Law. President of the Long Island Association.
Others said Long Island needs to connect with the Northeast Corridor’s high speed trains to ease traffic.
“Of course it’s feasible. They do this all over Europe, the Chinese are doing it all through China and there they have billions of people,” Former Suffolk County Executive, Patrick Halpin said.
Long Island’s one and only public hearing is next week, and federal planners said nothing is etched in stone.
“We want to hear what is most important. What are the deal breakers, what are the things that matter the most?” Reyes-Alicea said.
A preferred option will be selected by springtime.
The public hearing will be held on January 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. in Mineola at the Nassau County Municipal Bldg, at 1550 Franklin Ave. The public comment period ends on January 30.
The FRA said that they have not reached a final decision, and are holding public meetings to seek public input.