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Minimize effect of LIRR’s third track, but get it built

A LIRR train passes within feet of the

A LIRR train passes within feet of the Floral Park pool's water slide Tuesday, June 14, 2016. The Village of Floral Park is concerned that a proposed third track for the LIRR line that runs next to the community's pool and recreation complex will have a negative impact on the village. Credit: Chuck Fadely

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino says he’s worried that the Long Island Rail Road’s third-track project could bring “danger” to Floral Park’s pool and recreation complex and the playground of an elementary school.

It’s surprising then that he’s never complained about the existing two tracks of the Main Line, which are in pretty much the same place and present the same hazards and inconveniences.

There’s no way to add a third track in the existing right of way, along 10 miles of the LIRR’s Main Line, without some concerns and complaints. But the pool and school were built long after the LIRR first laid tracks, indicating little worry about the issue in the past. And Santino has presented little evidence that the existing two tracks are dangerous.

But the benefits of improving the track bed from Floral Park to Hicksville are huge compared with the inconvenience its construction will likely cause. Adding a third track will improve commutes for both riders and for drivers because the project will eliminate seven grade crossings that endanger local residents and clog traffic. The expansion will improve the economy and future of the entire region by meeting the transportation needs of employers and workers.

The real problem, we suspect, isn’t a few months of noise or dust. No, it’s the resurrection of a particularly cynical brand of politics that preys on the fears of local residents to garner votes. Does it suprise you that there are state legislative elections this November?

The project’s environmental report is in the works. The plan ought to include building sound barriers and avoiding construction near the pool in the summer. But it’s ignoring the benefits of an additonal track and inflating the hassles that are worrisome and dangerous.