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New Rail Terminal On Long Island Helping Private Companies Trade In Trucks For Trains

YAPHANK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The truck traffic on the Long Island Expressway may soon get lighter because a new rail terminal is helping private companies trade in trucks for trains.

The world's longest parking lot is getting some relief in the form of freight-train service.

A new private rail terminal in the heart of Long Island just got its first food shipment -- 1 million pounds of flour used to churn out bread at Long Island's largest bakery.

"We feel that it's very, very important to try to take some of the trucks off the road," Richard Wenner of Wenner Bread Products told CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff on Friday. "And by utilizing the rail terminal we accomplish that, with over 1,500 trucks per year."

Wenner Bread used to truck the  flour in -- 1 million pounds every two days -- but it's replacing rubber on the road with steel wheels. With Brookhaven Rail Terminal up and running, trains replace 48 tractor-trailers per week.

"There is almost no commodity that couldn't come on to Long Island," Andy Kaufman, president of the Brookhaven Rail Terminal, said.

Stone and biodiesel companies are also onboard, cutting out bridges, tunnels and tolls.

"The bridge tolls have doubled, and we all know what's happened with fuel in the last couple of years,"  Kaufman said. "So this is a paradigm shift for people who are looking to bring freight onto Long Island."

If used to capacity, 50,000 to 60,000 truck trips can be taken off the LIE per year. Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko called it a game-changer.

"To have this type of rail facility centrally located right off the Expressway, it's going to allow for our businesses to expand," Lesko said. "[It will] create jobs, and it's also very good for the environment."

Up until now, the closest drop-off point by rail for food headed to Long Island was the Hunts Point Market in the Bronx. So this new rail yard should reduce truck traffic in the boroughs, too.

Brookhaven's town supervisor said that the only community opposition to the rail yard has to do with its appearance. Workers will be required to plant trees and landscape.

Long Island residents, do you agree that it's very important to try to take some of the trucks off the road? Offer your thoughts and comments in the section below...

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