At last, some progress has been made in getting more tractor-trailers off Long Island roads. A settlement has been reached in the long battle between Brookhaven Town and the operators of the Brookhaven Rail Terminal. The expansion of this facility is too important to allow it be derailed.
There is no need to re-litigate the actions and inactions of which both sides were guilty. Personalities got in the way. But the working group that finally resolved the dispute crafted an agreement in which both town and terminal gave up some things to get others in return. That’s how you make a deal.
The freight terminal now can proceed with adding a second spur adjacent to the track already in operation, and ultimately a third on the south side of the tracks in Yaphank. And it can do so in an expedited fashion. Brookhaven will have the environmental oversight it sought but not some of the zoning and other approvals typical on private projects. The town gets $500,000 from the owners of the terminal plus 62 wooded acres of terminal property for preservation. The terminal agrees to keep Brookhaven informed on its actions. If all goes well, the new spur will open by fall 2017.
The terminal now is poised to blossom. Its one spur handled more than 4,000 freight cars the last two years. That’s 16,000 tractor-trailers taken off our clogged and battered roads. Last month, a record 330 rail cars arrived at the terminal, hauling products such as lumber, flour and soybean oil. The terminal will erect another building for storing and cutting lumber to meet increased demand. This week, five freight cars loaded with rebar will leave South Carolina bound for Yaphank; two companies want to bring in rebar on a permanent basis. And the heavy interest generated by the second spur includes ongoing discussions about building a large warehouse for food distribution. Hundreds of new jobs are possible.
Cooperation and communication between town and terminal led to the settlement. Now that spirit must continue. There’s a lot at stake. The terminal is back on track. Keep it there. — The editorial board