FLORAL PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The Long Island Rail Road is on pace to deliver its worst on-time performance in two decades.
But that hasn’t stopped Gov. Andrew Cuomo from touting the agency’s progress. A dream since 1949, he said, has been realized. The Third Track Project is finally underway.
From Floral Park to Hicksville, the 9.8-mile third track will be an enormous public works project, creating jobs, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Wednesday. It will increase property values. Opponents who live near the tracks, like the Wong family, have concerns over how prolonged construction will affect their quality of life.
“It’s the pollution – if you live around here – lasting two years,” Bella Wong told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
For example, parts of miles-long Covert Avenue through Floral Park, New Hyde Park and Stewart Manor will be closed for months. Businesses owners said they worry about chronic noise and a lack of parking.
“I’ve written letters. We’ve found a few other places parking could be put, nobody seems to reply or answer,” Floral Park business owner William Corbett said.
“You can’t let that stop you. You know what the answer to NIMBY is, a smart plan that addresses the needs of the community,” Gov. Cuomo added.
It’s a desperate need in light of the disastrous on-time performance. Third track expansion will allow the LIRR to more easily bounce back on the main line from service disruptions, signal outages and switch problems. It will not claim any residential properties, CBS2’s McLogan reported.
Unlike past proposals, this one now includes the elimination of seven grade crossings, like one on busy New Hyde Park Road, where there are chronic and extreme traffic backups and safety concerns.
“It will allow for reverse commuting and really spur economic development and transit-oriented development by our train stations, exactly what we need to keep our young people and grow our economy,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.
The estimated budget for the project is $2 billion and it will take three to four years to complete the third track.
The capital plan is funding the project through a combination of MTA, state, and New York City dollars, many of them borrowed.