Village And MTA Butt Heads Over Third Track Project

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The Village of Garden City and the MTA/LIRR are in a little bit of a stand-off over the ongoing third track project after the village recently filed lawsuits over the Denton Avenue bridge replacement project and electrical poles that were installed near the Merillon train station.

“As all residents of our beloved village are acutely aware, the Long Island Rail Road’s Third Track Expansion Project has had a significant impact upon each of us,” Mayor Cosmo Veneziale said in a statement that is on the village’s website. “We recognize that you have many questions concerning the project and how it will continue to impact the village, particularly with respect to the Denton Avenue Bridge and potential changes to the roadway and bridge design. At the current time, the village is actively engaged in litigation with the Long Island Rail Road over issues involving the electric utility poles and the Denton Avenue area. As a result, we cannot discuss the particulars of the pending litigation. As of this date, no plan for the reconstruction of the Denton Avenue Bridge and the related roadway has been finalized. As this information becomes available, we will share it with you and look forward to receiving your input. We thank you for your patience and understanding as we continue to work to improve and preserve our village now and for the future.”

Last summer, Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin, assemblymen, legislators and councilmen stood with neighbors in the village to call on the MTA/LIRR and Third Track Constructors (3TC) to remove the 120-foot electrical poles that were placed along the Merillon train station and consider alternatives. They also urged the LIRR to halt construction of all gigantic utility poles along the main line.

At the time, 3TC explained that there were late design changes to the size and location of at least four poles, which are located adjacent to the Merillon Avenue station at Nassau Boulevard and Weyford Terrace. 3TC, who are the design-build contractors for the project, said that the approval of the design change for the poles was not required since the poles are owned by PSEG-LI that are placed within LIRR property.

But now that the village won’t grant permits to the MTA/LIRR to start the construction on the Denton Avenue bridge replacement, the third track project may face a delay in its deadline.

“There’s no question that this NIMBY action that we’re facing from Garden City is a problem,” Acting MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said in an MTA board meeting last week. “They’re taking the whole project and they’re preventing us from completing this one bridge and it’s clearly retaliation that they lost the lawsuit. We got a one-sided decision in the MTA’s favor when they tried to stop us from putting up new steel resilient utility poles that wouldn’t fall down and stop the railroad every time there’s a storm. They lost and now they won’t give us a permit to do work, which is pretty routine, so we’re in court trying to deal with that.”

The lawsuit regarding the electrical poles is now in appeal by the village after being thrown out by a state Supreme Court judge back in July.

Leiber said there’s a lot of people in Garden City who are wondering why their own community is stopping this project, which according to him, benefits the village and Long Island as a whole.

“It’s unfortunate that one village’s leadership, for whatever reason, is taking a disruptive tact,” Leiber said. “We’re going to get through it to keep on schedule and budget.”

The Third Track project is contractually mandated to be completed by December 2022.

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