Funding fight brews over LIRR third track project

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WOODBURY -

A funding fight is brewing over the Long Island Rail Road's third track project in Nassau County.

Democratic state Sen. John Brooks, of Seaford, says he worries that if his Republican colleagues won't back the LIRR's third track project, the metaphorical train may just leave the station for good.

The MTA's review board for capital projects was set to vote on the measure on Friday, but it was pulled at the last minute over concerns that the Senate Republicans, led by Majority Leader John Flanagan, of East Northport, might veto the measure. Flanagan has not taken a public stance on the issue, but Brooks says he hopes the majority will ultimately back the project.

"This is a $2 billion investment in our local economy," Brooks says. "This is an improvement in the railroad safety, this is jobs. I don't see how you can say no."

The mayors of New Hyde Park and Floral Park announced late last week that many of their concerns over the project, including issues like traffic congestion, noise and changes to home values, have been alleviated. Others have been lured by the promise of noise barriers and the elimination of dangerous grade crossings. There's also the impending "Summer of Hell" expected to result from track work at Penn Station.

Political consultant Michael Dawidziak says all of these developments make it all the more likely that state Senate Republicans will ultimately back the project.

"As these commute times get worse and worse, as more accidents happen, as people get injured, and it becomes downright even more dangerous to ride the rails, I think this becomes easier and easier to vote for," Dawidziak says.

News 12 reached out to Flanagan's office for comment. A spokesperson declined to indicate how Senate Republicans plan to move forward on the issue.

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