The LIE is a hot topic in LIBN these days.The Long Island Expressway represents Long Island quite nicely, all in a neat, 70-plus mile long package. It has it’s critics (check out Eric Alexander’s scenario on what Long Island would look like without the expressway) and people who recognize it’s need. It’s riddled with problems, is outdated and yet, without question, millions of people use the route.

Like the LIE, parts of Long Island as a whole stink, yet we all still live here. Even better, countless new groups of people move to the Island each year, setting down their roots and looking for their piece of the American dream.

Long Island’s problem is that we cannot get out of our own way. Our counties’ rely too heavily on sales tax, our schools place a tax burden on residents that’s nearly unmanageable and we lose corporations as frequently as my dog chews my fiancée’s shoes; and yet, we succeed despite ourselves. People still live here and pay through the nose to do so. Our land preservation programs and environmental legislation have set national policy precedents that are being copied across the country and our East End is nationally recognized as a “go-to hot party Kardashian destination,” as well as being the largest agricultural producer in New York State.

Our governments serve the connected, while our resident groups protest anything from a mega-city in a special groundwater protection area (too much traffic!) to a roadside lemonade stand (again, too much traffic!). Yet, despite ourselves, we still get things accomplished when the need arises. The Carmans River, running through the Town of Brookhaven, is getting protected through innovative usage of zoning in the watershed as I write these words.

We all love to hate the Long Island Expressway, and yet, we all still use it. We gripe about the traffic, but instead of taking the train, we sit near the Cross Island Expressway interchange long enough to hear Iron Maiden’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” to completion.

Like Long Island itself, the LIE is a microcosm that represents everything you need to know about Nassau and Suffolk counties – it’s outdated and expensive, yet we all still use it and it’s absolutely essential to the success of the tri-state area.