The following Public Comment was given on May 25, 2016 concerning the LIRR third track project during a meeting in Hicksville, NY.
My name is Richard Murdocco. I am the founder and publisher of The Foggiest Idea, and am land use columnist who writes professionally on regional real estate development issues. I am here tonight to share my thoughts on the LIRR’s third track project.
All Long Islanders deserve clarity regarding the logistical nuances of this project.
As such, any Environmental Impact Statement produced should take an honest data-driven effort to study the impacts the additional rail would have on impacted areas. We cannot let the prospect of improvement steamroll the needs of our fellow Long Islanders who live within this well-travelled rail corridor. I do not say this often, but the MTA and LIRR have conducted excellent public outreach efforts regarding this project, and I am optimistic that the Environmental Impact Statement will follow suit accordingly.
It is easy to label all those who oppose an important project like the third track as simply NIMBY obstructionists. What we as policymakers, elected officials and even planners must realize is that Long Islanders have a distaste for government – if recent news events are any indication, for good reason. Those who oppose the project are doing so out of fear – for their property values, quality of life, and communities. It is up to us, the project supporters, to produce a data-driven document that not only answers their questions, but alleviates their concerns.
The simple truth is that in its current iteration, now is the time to support the third track proposal.
Thanks to the marked reduction of residential property takings that would be needed, as well as the proposed elimination of grade crossings, our region would benefit from this expansion of rail infrastructure. Regardless of sentiment about the third track project, East Side Access, and all of its related impacts on the LIRR network, is coming. We must remember that East Side Access is the principal force behind a projected ridership increase of 27.5 percent within the next 30 years. Paired with the double tracking between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale, adding this third track between Floral Park and Hicksville would have a huge impact on absorbing that ridership demand – another compelling reason why I lend my support to these efforts.
The opportunity to build a project of this magnitude does not come to this region often, which is why we must move forward. Now is the time to support the third track – and it’s up to us to allow this much-needed project to stand on its own against the scrutiny of the public.
The Foggiest Idea