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The MTA puts third-track pieces in place

The work at the Merillon Avenue station is

The work at the Merillon Avenue station is part of the LIRR Expansion Project, which includes adding a 9.8-mile third track from Floral Park to Hicksville. Credit: AP/Kathy Willens

Daily Point

Third-track marker

The Long Island Rail Road’s third-track project will reach a significant milestone this weekend, when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority installs a new bridge and underpass tunnel at the Covert Avenue grade crossing in New Hyde Park.

The installation will be the MTA’s fourth of the summer, part of an effort to eliminate eight grade crossings. The project is vital to the LIRR’s work to add a third track to the stretch from Floral Park to Hicksville, which ultimately will allow for expanded service, redundancies in the event of problems, and the possibility of a reverse commute for Long Island workers who live in New York City.

Once all of the work is done, there will be a two-lane underpass, with a sidewalk, for cars to travel under the railroad tracks at Covert Avenue. 

This will, of course, affect train service this weekend, with no LIRR service between New Hyde Park and Hicksville. Riders can use shuttle buses, NICE buses, and other train lines to get to their destinations.

The elimination of busy Main Line grade crossings is a key part of the third-track project. As recently as Tuesday, a similar grade crossing on another LIRR line became the scene of an accident: A train with no passengers struck a car whose driver had apparently driven around the lowered safety gates at an East Rockaway grade crossing, resulting in hours of delays on the Long Beach branch. 

So consider this weekend short-term pain for long-term gain.

- Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall

Talking Point

Playing the odds

Philip “Flip” Pidot’s last political race ended before the 2016 congressional elections — and after a protracted legal battle — without him ever officially making it onto a ballot. His attempt to contest the Republican nomination against Jack Martins always faced exceptionally long odds. But Glen Cove’s Pidot, 43, who deals with the odds and ramifications of different political outcomes for a living, said he never looked at his race that way.

And he may be getting more publicity in the political world now, as senior market analyst for the increasingly high-profile political betting site PredictIt, than he ever did as a dark-horse candidate. 

With PredictIt, people buy and sell shares of a particular outcome, a Trump re-election, say, or a Supreme Court confirmation, for a portion of a dollar, with shares of winners worth $1 if the correct outcome materializes.

Pidot was doing work for PredictIt even before his 2016 run. And he is the founder of a firm, American Civics Exchange, that is working to create a legal market for exchange-traded investment contracts based on political or policy outcomes that can be used as hedges against uncertainty.

“It could be anything from approval of a drug to a change in certain interest rates,” Pidot told The Point. “Politics uncertainty is sort of unhedgeable now.” 

Pidot’s own 2016 race went through twists and turns that included Martins getting Pidot bounced from the ballot in the June primary, a judge ruling that Pidot should have been allowed to run and scheduling a special Oct. 6 primary four weeks before the general election, and a federal appellate court canceling that primary, making Martins the nominee. Martins lost to Thomas Suozzi in the general election.

Asked about his long-shot run for Congress, which might have attracted a very low share price were it featured on PredictIt, Pidot, who has an undergraduate economics degree from Notre Dame and an MBA from the University of Virginia, said: “I never looked at that race as a one-cent contract. I thought I had a credible message on spending and the deficit and term limits, and had we not spent six months in court I could have gotten that message out.”

And the odds that Pidot will again seek public office? “I have no plans to at this point, but I’d never say ‘never,’” he said.

- Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

Change of plans

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Final Point

Excelsi-or not!

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo says it’s time for New York to change license plate designs after 10 years with the old “empire blue and white” plates, and he’s giving New Yorkers a chance to vote on their favorite. What he’s not providing, with his very limited offerings, is the variety of options most New Yorkers probably would expect. It’s a Waffle House menu, in the land of the diners.

There are five to choose from. Four include the motto “EXCELSIOR,” three of them depicting images of the Statue of Liberty and one of them split between an upstate mountain and waterfall vista, Lady Liberty, the Manhattan skyline and a Long Island Lighthouse.

The fifth plate features no motto and is dominated by a picture of the Mario M. Cuomo bridge.

The Point thinks the pictures are mostly fine (a tasteful line drawing of a bagel or some cannolis wouldn’t hurt) but argues the motto could use some work. Why go with “Excelsior” when you can really say something about the state to everyone who spies the plate. 

So far, some of our top ideas are:

  • Taxis and Taxes

  • Not In Our Back Yard

  • You talkin’ to me?

  • Fuhgeddaboudit

  • Home of Pizza Rat

New York also could do regional plates to celebrate differences. A plate for the financially struggling upstate, for instance, could read “Will Work For Food,” while the corresponding Long Island plate could highlight our uniquely brusque approach to others with “Will Wrestle For Food” and the New York City version could take pride in its high-end cuisine with “Will Borrow For Food.”

New Yorkers can vote on the plates on offer at More important, they can send their own ideas for The Point’s alternative mottos to

- Lane Filler @lanefiller