I was dismayed to hear MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota’s recent comment about our local communities’ opposition to the third-track plan as “classic NIMBY.”
Common sense and a commitment to the suburban character of local neighborhoods have been the driving forces behind overwhelming and unwavering opposition to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plan to add a third train track along the Long Island Rail Road’s main line corridor, between Floral Park and Hicksville. While some decry opposition to the third track as NIMBYISM, a thoughtful review of environmental, safety and community character impacts are among the real and significant issues that must be weighed against the dubious benefits touted by the MTA.
Tearing through residential neighborhoods, threatening a local park and destroying businesses during a difficult economy, a third track would redefine our suburbs in a profound and negative manner. Indeed, the MTA has even acknowledged that property acquisition, water and air pollution and increased noise and vibration were potential effects of the expansion. What’s more, potentially deadly pieces of steel and other debris from the train tracks have jettisoned into local homeowners’ yards, public areas and even an elementary school. This hazard would get worse if the MTA builds a third track, bringing dangerous debris close to homes, parks and other areas where people gather.
The third-track project would also transform our suburbs into an urban environment, increasing train and car traffic and converting local train stations into major rail hubs like Jamaica train station. Finally, one of the MTA’s stated goals of accommodating reverse commuters is at total variance with my experiences at main line train stations. Specifically, reverse commuters constitute a very tiny, almost fledgling, contingent of passengers.
In conclusion, I believe that the sound and sensible position on the third track is to make a decision against pursuing the project. Destruction of our suburban character, adverse impact on businesses, environmental concerns, safety of area families and a host of other important quality-of-life issues far outweigh any dubious benefits such as serving a miniscule contingent of reverse commuters.
Clearly, common sense, not NIMBYISM, was the driving force behind almost 12,0000 people signing petitions in opposition to a third track. Similarly, I strongly oppose any effort to resuscitate the ill-advised third-track project.
Assemblyman Edward Ra
21st Assembly District