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North Hempstead can soften blow of third track disruption with $4M cushion from MTA

Some of the Community Benefit Fund money might eventually be used to buy electronic commuter information signs or build commuter parking lots, town officials said.

Crews work on the Third Track project at

Crews work on the Third Track project at the Long Island Rail Road station at Carle Place. Photo Credit: Howard Simmons

The Town of North Hempstead will have access to $4 million to help benefit residents inconvenienced by the LIRR's third track construction project, according to a pending contract between the town and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

North Hempstead officials said they spent months negotiating the contract, which the town council approved April 9. The $4 million is a slice of the $20 million Community Benefit Fund the MTA unveiled in 2017

Michael Kelly, North Hempstead’s chief deputy attorney who negotiated the contract, said at the April 9 meeting that the document is “a good deal for the town.” He said incidents of people parking illegally around the Long Island Rail Road station in Carle Place have been on the rise since construction started, and because of that, the MTA agreed to a special condition.  

“We can use a portion of the community benefit fund for stepped up [parking] enforcement around the Carle Place area,” Kelly said. “We can help the problem of illegal parking, but not take [funding for] it out of the town’s budget.”

In December 2017, the MTA hired Third Track Constructors, or 3TC, to build a third track along the LIRR’s 9.8-mile Main Line. The project runs from Hicksville to Floral Park and is scheduled for completion in late 2022.

Kelly said the contract states that town officials can review 3TC’s plans for traffic management, pollution prevention and design for third track work being done on town-owned roads. 3TC will also perform daily cleaning of dust from roadways, Kelly said.

In exchange, the town is waiving permit fees that 3TC would need to do work on town roads. North Hempstead is also granting 3TC a special license to use town roads for construction activity for the duration of the project.  

Town officials are forming a committee to determine when to utilize the $4 million. Some of the money could be used to restore plantings damaged by demolition; purchase and install electronic commuter information signs for traffic redirection; or build commuter parking lots, the town attorney's office said.

Supervisor Judi Bosworth called the process “an arduous negotiation” that will now help town officials keep 3TC transparent.

The MTA has already signed contracts with other municipalities, including New Hyde Park and Floral Park, that detail how and when those communities can use their share of the $20 million.

Mark Roche, the MTA's project executive assigned to the third track, said authority officials want the project finished on time and within budget.

Councilwoman Viviana Russell, whose district includes Westbury and Carle Place, said North Hempstead Town residents have been concerned because the town lagged behind some villages that have already signed their agreements.

“It took us so long because we had to make sure we had some warranties and things in place to protect our residents,” Russell said.

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