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Cuomo, MTA Revise LIRR Track Expansion Plan After Community Complaints

FLORAL PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- After listening to complaints and concerns, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday announced a massive overhaul of his plans to build a third track on one of the busiest corridors on the Long Island Rail Road.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the earlier plan had been so unpopular that billboards were mounted reading, "No Third Track" alongside Cuomo's face with a red railroad track through it.

"Parking will be taken away. It will be scare for our commuters and I think it's going to really impact families," Floral Park business owner Ann Corbett said in March.

"Our biggest concern is that we will bear all the burden and derive none of the benefit," Floral Park Mayor Thomas Tweedy said in March. "The third track is going through some of the most densely populated and some of the most mature communities in western Nassau County, so eminent domain is certainly part of what the project will be."

But things have changed. Cuomo and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority have revamped plans to build a $2 billion third track from Floral Park to Hicksville.

"What's different this time is we really listened to the community; worked with the community; coordinated with the community," said MTA special adviser John McCarthy.

The new plan will include:

• No residential property acquisitions;
• Elimination of seven street-level grade crossings;
• More parking;
• Satellite parking to keep construction workers' cars off residential streets;
• Protecting access to local businesses;
• New noise controls.

"We're going to build sound elimination walls, which means you're going to be better off," McCarthy said. "There will be less noise from the railroad."

More than 100,000 commuters travel between Floral Park and Hicksville every day. Besides crowded trains and platforms, there are long delays anytime there is a problem. When one of the two current tracks is shut off, trains must alternate on the one that is left.

"We think this is going to be a win for the people who live in the communities, and all the riders of the railroad," McCarthy said.

MTA officials said they will seek even more community input over the next few months and are open to making more changes.

The hope is that construction will start at the end of the year. The project could take up to four years to complete.

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