Third Track Task Force Chair Archie Cheng Statement
Final Scoping Document on Third Track
I was extremely disappointed but not surprised that the Final Scoping Document released last Friday did not answer most of our questions. Rather, it basically said please wait patiently for the DEIS. Since early February, we have been asked to wait for one document after another. We have been told that the next release will answer many of our questions and still we do not know the basics: Why is this project so desperately needed, where will it be built; how will it be built, and who is paying for this. The only definitive answers I found were 1) that the project will be completely paid by the State and 2) they want to start in 2017.
The blanket statement that this project is needed to address population growth on Long Island and with that growth, the need for better reverse commuting and intra-island transportation is not supported by any real studies that have been disclosed to us.
We were told that the project will be built within the Right of Way (ROW) already owned by the MTA-LIRR. We have asked for a survey of the ROW to see what private and public structures would be impacted. We now have an aerial view of the LIRR's determination of the ROW. That is not a survey. A survey shows in great detail the exact location of fences, structures and clearly defined boundaries. A survey is usually done in a scale of 1 inch to 20 feet. What we received was many pages of pictures where the scale was noted as 1 inch to 200 feet and a shading of the area the MTA/LIRR claims to be their ROW. This shaded area is in numerous locations obscured by shadows and trees.
I am unable to see through the trees and certainly do not know what structures lie within the claimed ROW area. In our Building Department we have archived surveys of the area when the tracks were elevated. One survey (done by old time surveyors) was over 20 feet long and showed structures within the ROW not by dimensions in feet but down to parts of an inch. Notwithstanding the fact that their are no dimensions in the aerial maps provided, I count at least 19 buildings along Charles Street which encroach on the claimed LIRR ROW. What will happen to those buildings?
Moreover, I have been saying all along that I accept the Governor's promise that there will be no residential takings. However, I have asked what about temporary takings for the construction process and that it is still not answered. Those old surveys drawn when the tracks were elevated showed temporary takings by the MTA/LIRR within 3 feet of the back doors of the houses on Charles Street.
I have commented on the grade crossing elimination at Covert Avenue and the fact that the NYSDOT informed us that traffic would be diverted to Plainfield Avenue. We have informed NYSDOT that Plainfield is already over congested and that we could not see any way that Plainfield could take anymore traffic. From the Final Scoping Document, we see that the diversion of traffic has not been addressed and also that the trestle will have to be widened. How ill we be able to move traffic on Plainfield during that work and how could we accommodate increased traffic?
I could go on and on but I now sit patiently for the DEIS and hope we get some answers.