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Long IslandTransportation

LIRR’s Patrick Nowakowski urges public input on 3rd track

Supporters and opponents of a proposed third track on the LIRR’s Main Line on Tuesday will have one of their first opportunities to face off with state transportation officials behind the project at the first of six public meetings on the plan.

At a meeting Monday of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s LIRR Committee, railroad President Patrick Nowakowski said the sessions will provide commuters, impacted Nassau residents, and any other interested parties an opportunity “to provide useful input on things that they think we need to consider as part of our evaluation of this project.”

“It’s something that we at the Long Island Rail Road have long desired to add to our system,” Nowakowski said of the proposed 9.8-mile track stretching from Floral Park to Hicksville. “It’s a project that means a lot to the future of the Long Island Rail Road.”

The meetings will be held Tuesday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at Hofstra University’s Mack Student Center, and at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Inn at New Hyde Park. On Wednesday, meetings will take place at 11 a.m. at the Yes We Can Community Center in Westbury and 6 p.m. at Antun’s by Minar catering hall in Hicksville.

In January, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed a new initiative to kick start the $1 billion third track project, which has long been considered by the LIRR but has been dormant for years because of local opposition. Opponents have raised concerns about the potential for the project to be built over private property, construction devastating business districts and residential communities, and the possibility of increased freight rail traffic on the Main Line.

Cuomo and the LIRR have taken measures to make the resurrected project more palatable than the original, including by not impeding on residential properties and eliminating seven grade crossings along the route—reducing the potential for accidents and easing traffic congestion.

The LIRR Commuter Council on Monday also pledged to take part in the meetings over the third track—an objective “for years of both the LIRR and tens of thousands of suffering commuters.”

“An issue such as a stalled train, malfunctioning crossing gate or track defect means major delays not only for Main Line riders, but for the entire system, as Main Line delays cascade across the LIRR,” MTA Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee Executive Director William Henderson told MTA board members on be — alf of the Commuter Council. “We’ll be at the forefront calling for this critical work to move forward, and we hope that you will be there with us.”

The public has until June 13 to submit comments in person or by mail or email. More information is at amodernli.com.

Additional public hearings will be held after the LIRR completes an environmental review for the project.

Meanwhile, another pro-third track group, the Right Track for Long Island Coalition, on Monday announced it had added 30 new members, including the New York State Laborers’ Union Local 1298, SUNY Old Westbury, the Nassau County Council of Civic Associations and the United Way of Long Island.

Still, many others remain opposed to the project, including several state, county and local elected officials who last week called on Cuomo to put off this week’s meetings until more details on the project were released. They include how the new track would be aligned, where construction would begin, how long it would last, and how commuters and homeowners adjacent to the track would be affected.

Right Track coalition co-chairman Kevin Law said that while construction “can mean short-term inconvenience” for some, “it will have an undeniable impact on our regional economy that will be felt from our biggest businesses, down to the personal bank accounts of individual Long Islanders.”

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