LIRR extends 3rd track comment period

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An artist’s rendering shows what the New Hyde Park Long Island Rail Road station could look like if the third track project, first announced in January, is completed. (Photo from third track scoping document)

The Long Island Rail Road has extended the deadline for public comments on its proposed third track project to Feb. 15 from Jan. 31, the railroad announced Wednesday.

The move gives local officials and residents two more weeks to submit formal feedback on the lengthy draft environmental study of the $2 billion plan released in late November, and followed requests to extend the deadline from New Hyde Park Mayor Robert Lofaro and Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino.

In a project update email, planners of the project Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed last year noted — as they have previously — that the two-month comment period was already longer than that for larger projects such as the Second Avenue subway and the new Tappan Zee bridge.

“Today’s deadline extension is another example of the governor’s and project team’s strong commitment to community outreach and input,” the email says.

The public can submit comments through the project’s website, AModernLI.com, by emailing info@amodernli.com, writing a letter to the MTA or attending one of six public hearings scheduled for Jan. 17, 18 and 19.

Project planners will review the comments and incorporate them into a final environmental impact statement later this year.

The LIRR wants to add a third track to a key 9.8-mile stretch of its Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville, expected to take three to four years.

The LIRR did not extend its deadline for comments on the outline of the environmental study released last spring after similar requests from local officials and project opponents, but did hold additional public hearings on that document.

More than 1,200 people attended those meetings and more than 750 submitted comments at those hearings, project officials said in August.

The environmental study says the project would have a minimal environmental impact and improve train service, traffic and noise along the corridor.

But many local residents have remained concerned about construction affecting traffic and their quality of life and questioned the need for a project they see as disruptive.

Larry Montreuil, the Village of New Hyde Park’s deputy mayor, praised the two-week extension, but said the six weeks village officials asked for “would have been much more helpful.”

“We thought the magnitude with which this project may impact New Hyde Park deserves a very careful study so that we can appreciate the impacts and hope to mitigate them,” Montreuil said.

Bernard Ryba, mayor of the Village of Old Brookville and president of the Nassau County Village Officials Association, praised the extension, saying it makes sense because small villages do not have the resources of larger municipalities that have hosted projects of this scale.

“These communities that have these concerns about having enough time, they’re not the size, obviously, of New York City,” Ryba said. “When New York City knew [other projects were] coming, they had attorneys at their beck and call.”

New Hyde Park, Floral Park and Garden City have together retained Beveridge & Diamond, a Manhattan environmental law firm, and Vertex, an engineering firm, to review the LIRR’s environmental statement.

Dave Kapell, executive director of the pro-third track Right Track for Long Island Coalition, called the extended deadline “an additional effort to make this project as inclusive as possible, resulting in increased support and momentum for the project.”

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