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Tri-Hamlet Peninsula NEEDS More LIRR Crossings

Mastic Shirley railroad crossing The South Shore PressIt’s not a question of wants – it’s a matter of needs, and it is the position of South Shore Press that the Tri-Hamlet Peninsula needs at least one more at-grade railroad crossing. For decades and several administrations, town officials communicated with the powers that be in Albany, the New York State Department of Transportation, (DOT), and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority & Long Island Railroad to build more railroad crossings in the community. The reason is simple. An estimated 45 trains pass through the Tri-Hamlet Community on a typical weekday, all hours of the day and night. In a catastrophic event or emergency that would call for a mass exodus off the peninsula, additional railroad crossings would alleviate choke points and allow for a more rapid flow of traffic north out of harm’s way.
The town’s August 23 public hearing drew unanimous support from residents and elected officials at every level of government, all of whom called for at least one additional railroad crossing. This was, perhaps, the one public hearing when the entire community was in unanimous agreement on a singular, bipartisan issue. Both Assemblymen Dean Murray and Fred Thiele, Jr. spoke to the dire need of at least one additional LIRR crossing.
Enter LIRR representatives who, after listening to lengthy testimony on the need for more LIRR crossings, had the audacity to insult the intelligence of the community and speakers at the hearing by reading into the record a pre-fabricated statement of statistics on at-grade crossings and why the MTA & LIRR is continuing to dismantle at-grade crossings and replace with bridges over the tracks or lowering roads for passages beneath the tracks. The LIRR maintains no more at-grade crossings will be constructed and instead, bridges over or roadways paved under tracks will be built.
Wake up, LIRR. Someone’s asleep at the switch! We’re in the 21st Century where the days of ‘One Size Fits All’ traffic patterns are extinct. Town officials have already explored the idea of a bridge over the tracks, but logistics dictate this concept’s impracticality. There’s just not enough space to create this kind of infrastructure.
Then there’s the cost factor. As Congressman Lee Zeldin testified, the federal government has been “showing you the money,” and lots of it, yet, you are shortchanging this community. An estimated $700,000 expenditure would open up another route for this bustling community to travel more safely on a daily basis and certainly if a catastrophic event hit the area. So, what price do you put on the public’s safety?
This time around the Town of Brookhaven has got it right. Kudos goes to Sixth District Councilman Dan Panico and the Law Department. They’re following procedures according to Section 90 of the New York State Railroad Law. They’ve taken the first steps by commissioning a traffic impact study and conducting a public hearing, testimony of which is now in the hands of the State DOT, and the case will be heard by an administrative law judge.
If additional railroad crossings were ever going to come to fruition in the Tri Hamlet Community, the time is now. South Shore Press is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with its residents, merchants, school and elected officials at every level of government in the plight to build more at-grade LIRR crossings on the Peninsula.
- By News/Editorial Department

Filed in: Editorials

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