LI business leaders ask top lawmakers to end stalemate over Third Track project

Long Island business leaders are urging Governor Kathy Hochul and other top-elected state officials to help break the deadlock between the Long Island Rail Road and the village of Garden City over the Third Track project, cutting the $2 billion effort. .6 billion overdue and could get past budget.

In a letter sent on Monday, the company writes leaders asked Democrats Hochul, Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​and Speaker of Parliament Carl Heastie to “enter and beg the village” to issue the necessary permits for the railroad to proceed with a critical bridge replacement project for the progress of the third track .

The authors also encouraged politicians to “explore legal options to advance this project.” That could include changing the state law so that the LIRR doesn’t need the village permits to continue with the bridge work.

“We find it a nuisance that the village of Garden City interferes with the ability of New York State and its agency, the MTA, to fulfill their responsibilities under state law to build a project or other project that has been approved.” by the state,” said the letter, written by the heads of the Long Island Association, the Long Island Builders Institute, the Association for a Better Long Island and the Long Island Contractors’ Association.

The groups, collectively representing thousands of Long Island companies, have said the project would boost the economies of Nassau and Suffolk by creating jobs and improving connectivity on, outside and within the island.

Hochul spokesman Hazel Crampton-Hays called the project “critical” and said the governor “will ensure that local leaders and stakeholders remain engaged throughout the process.”

Mike Murphy, a Stewart-Cousins ​​spokesperson, said her office would review the letter. “We understand the importance of improved infrastructure and its relationship to economic development and helping all of Long Island,” Murphy said.

Heastie’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

Village officials have not responded to repeated requests for comment on the matter.

Formerly known as the LIRR extension, the project aims to build a third 10-mile track between Floral Park and Hicksville — all on the LIRR’s property. Earlier this year, the village sued the LIRR unsuccessfully over the location of several utility poles near the Merillon Avenue station.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority – the parent organization of the LIRR – has said that in retaliation for losing the suit, the village has withheld the permits needed to replace the Denton Avenue railroad bridge.

In a letter sent to the court in August, an MTA attorney said that if permits are not issued before the end of that month, the project “will not be able to meet the contracted end date of December 2022. “

A delay to the project could impact other major LIRR infrastructure efforts, officials said, including the start of full-time train service at the new Elmont-UBS Arena station, which opened this week.

Nevertheless, MTA’s acting chairman and chief executive officer, Janno Lieber, said on Wednesday that the Third Track project was on time and within budget, suggesting that the transit agency was also looking for a way to proceed without the permits. .

“We’re going to do our very best to make sure, come what may, we find a new way to get around, if necessary, the dramas created by this small group of people in Garden City,” said Lieber.

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