Albany, N.Y. — New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the completion of the environmental impact study (EIS) for the proposed LIRR expansion project — one of New York’s greatest efforts to increase capacity of the commuter railroad since it was first built in the mid-19th century. The Final Environmental Impact Statement confirms the expansion project will improve LIRR service, reliability, and safety, for both residents and commuters on Long Island.
“Expanding the Main Line is crucial to the future success of Long Island businesses and its residents, and this environmental study brings us one step closer to fulfilling New York’s goal of providing reliable, safe travel for all,” Governor Cuomo said. “By increasing rail capacity and eliminating street-level grade crossings, this project will reduce congestion and help build a transit system that meets the demands of 21st century travelers, marking another major step forward in our efforts to build a brighter future for Long Island.”
The project’s comprehensive Final EIS is the result of more than a year of data collection, analysis, and continuous public outreach. A total of 12 public hearings were conducted, in addition to a walk-in project office at Mineola Station, and hundreds of meetings with elected officials, community groups, transit and engineering advocates and experts, and other critical stakeholders such as individual homeowners, business owners and commuters.
Required by New York State environmental laws, this study aimed to identify any potential significant adverse impacts, and ensure the project is implemented safely, responsibly, and with public input. The study’s findings confirm that the LIRR expansion project will improve service and reduce delays for customers throughout the system by adding a third track to the bottlenecked, two-track section of the Main Line in Nassau County. The elimination of street-level train crossings, or “grade crossings,” in the project area will also reduce delays and improve safety. The study demonstrates that by constructing sound barriers and retaining walls, the project will significantly reduce noise in local communities by blocking sound from trains. Removing street level grade crossings in the project corridor will eliminate the loud train horns and crossing bells required at these crossings, and end the extensive idling of automobiles at grade crossings which will reduce air pollution. Eliminating street-level crossings will reduce traffic jams and improve safety.
MTA Interim Executive Director Veronique “Ronnie” Hakim said, “This comprehensive study is the result of exhaustive research, data collection, analysis and public consultation, using some of the strictest environmental standards in the nation. It confirms not just vast benefits for commuters throughout the entire LIRR system, but for our neighbors in the project corridor as well, with significant reductions in noise, and the safety and convenience benefits that come from eliminating grade crossings, building sound barrier walls and parking garages, and updating stations.”
LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski said, “This completely new effort to fix the two-track bottleneck on the LIRR’s Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville is like none that ever came before it – with exhaustive community participation, no residential relocations and significant reductions in noise and improvements in safety for local residents.”
The proposed project is completely different from prior proposals to expand track capacity on the LIRR’s Main Line. The Final EIS released today confirms that this project will include:
- No residential relocations;
- Elimination of all street-level grade crossings within the 9.8-mile project corridor;
- Construction of sound barrier walls to reduce noise;
- Station upgrades;
- Additional parking;
- Increased reliance on private construction industry expertise to minimize construction duration, impacts and cost; and
- An unprecedented level of public outreach to engage local officials, homeowners and other stakeholders and incorporate their input while the project is being planned and constructed.
A draft of the EIS was released in November 2016, and was followed by a public comment period that was extended in response to public request. Six public hearings at three locations, with shuttle buses available from nearby rail stations, were held in January and approximately 1,000 people attended. More than 700 formal comments were also submitted and responded to, which are included in the Final EIS under “Response to Comments.” The full text of comments as written, as well as full transcripts of all six Draft EIS hearings, are available in an appendix of the Final EIS. All sections of the Final EIS are available on the project website at www.aModernLI.com.