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Planner says proposed LI Sound tunnel should include trains

The president of Regional Plan Association says a transit component to a new tunnel would help reduce traffic.

A rendering shows how a tunnel under Long

A rendering shows how a tunnel under Long Island Sound might work. Photo Credit: Polimeni International

The proposed Long Island Sound tunnel being promoted by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo should include room for trains as well as automobiles, a top planner said Wednesday.

Tom Wright, president of Regional Plan Association, an influential think tank in Manhattan, said, “If we are going to make a link we’d like to see some transit component to it” because of projected increased demand in the next 25 years for alternatives to moving people and goods off the Island.

Ten years ago, the idea of a Sound tunnel that could accommodate cars, trucks and trains was floated by the late Vincent Polimeni, a local developer. The project failed to win state support.

Wright also said Wednesday that RPA, which advocates for housing, transportation and big building projects to improve the quality of life in the tristate area, is worried a tunnel will cause more congestion in Westchester County or Connecticut.

“The traffic on the Connecticut/Westchester side has been a real concern for us,” Wright told about 70 people at a Melville event organized by the Long Island Association business group.

He said the plan association has yet to take a position on the proposed tunnel, though the group has backed other transportation projects such as a third track for the Long Island Rail Road and access to Grand Central Terminal for LIRR riders.

Wright was in Melville to discuss his group’s fourth master plan for New York City, Long Island, southern Connecticut and New Jersey.

State Department of Transportation spokesman Joseph Morrissey said “We welcome RPA’s comments and input. We plan on conducting robust outreach with local communities, stakeholders and other interested parties as the project progresses.”

Last month, Cuomo announced the next steps toward seeking proposals to develop a tunnel between the North Shore and Westchester County. A Sound crossing has been debated on the Island since 1938 and multiple plans have been scuttled by fierce community opposition.

In a document seeking input for a tunnel plan, the Transportation Department makes no mention of trains using the tunnel, which is described as “a single diameter, two-tiered tunnel with two lanes per level.”

Cuomo and the State Legislature commissioned an 87-page report, released last month, that estimated a Sound tunnel would cost between $31.5 billion and $55.4 billion to build, depending on the location and whether there are one or two tubes.

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