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Critics say Long Island Sound crossing would ‘destroy’ state park

Kings Park hamlet was one of three Long Island landing sites for Sound crossings envisioned in a feasibility study commissioned by New York State.

Looking north toward Connecticut, the Long Island Sound,

Looking north toward Connecticut, the Long Island Sound, from Sunken Meadow State Park in Kings Park, on Jan. 18, 2018. Photo Credit: Barry Sloan

Smithtown opposition is hardening against a proposed Long Island Sound crossing that would link Kings Park to Connecticut.

Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James) said a tunnel or bridge would “destroy Sunken Meadow State Park,” the 1,287-acre park that fronts the Long Island Sound. “That’s not going to go over.”

Suffolk County Legis. Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) dismissed the plan as “not even worthy of discussion,” and Kings Park Civic Association president Linda Henninger said her group had serious “concerns.” The hamlet was one of three Long Island landing sites for Sound crossings envisioned in a feasibility study commissioned by New York State and released earlier this month.

State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) has already said he opposes the cross-Sound connection project. In a statement, Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim said town residents would probably oppose a crossing that landed in Kings Park, and suggested holding a public forum so residents could learn more about the project.

The 87-page report estimated a bridge, tunnel or combination of the two across the Sound would cost as much as $55.4 billion to build.

A Long Island Sound crossing would reduce travel time and road congestion as well as improve air quality, access to jobs, evacuation routes and freight movement, the report’s authors wrote.

“Governor Cuomo has directed DOT to conduct additional engineering, environmental and financial analysis to determine the best path forward for this transformative project, which could reduce traffic on Long Island,” Joe Morrissey, a spokesman for the agency wrote in an email. “DOT will closely examine any potential impacts as well as benefits to the local communities as part of the process.”

Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor’s office, did not comment.

Two scenarios they envisioned would allow travel from the Long Island Expressway to Interstate 95 via an extension of the Sunken Meadow State Parkway. They call for a “causeway structure” that would run between Sunken Meadow State Park and Alfred E. Smith Golf Course and link to a roughly 18.5-mile bridge or bridge-tunnel combination across the Sound to either Bridgeport or Devon in Connecticut.

Both scenarios would require reconstruction of Sunken Meadow State Parkway to allow for commercial vehicle traffic, the report said.

Other proposals deserving further consideration by the state include a tunnel, or tunnel/bridge combination, between Oyster Bay and the Westchester communities of Rye and Port Chester, the report’s authors wrote.

They dismissed proposals to link Wading River to either New Haven or Branford in Connecticut, saying they would not foster economic development and would be too expensive. They also dismissed the possibility of only bridges between Oyster Bay and Rye/Port Chester and between Kings Park and Devon.

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