Mineola Mayor Paul Pereira said he was “disappointed” watching Gov. Kathy Hochul’s press conference Oct. 3 at the Westbury Train Station announcing the LIRR Third Track project’s completion.
Pereira said the project is far from complete.
“I understand that it is campaign season and that there is an election in four weeks — however, words and statements matter,” Pereira said in a statement to the village. “To state that the project is completed is a slap in the face to the residents who have had to put up with the mess and inconvenience of all of the construction and to our constituents who utilize this station every day who still have to deal with closures, delays and construction obstacles.”
He added, “I have been a supporter of the expansion from the beginning and have asked our residents and commuters to be patient, but I cannot idly let these mistruths or exaggerations go without a response.”
The mayor clarified that there is a distinction between the Third Track Project and the $2.5 billion Main Line Expansion Project, but to the regular resident it is semantics.
“The average resident and commuter cannot tell the difference between the two and it is unfair to assume that they would. I would encourage the governor to come to the Mineola Train Station and the surrounding area to see for herself what our residents have been through and continue to deal with on a daily basis,” Pereira continued. “No community on the main line has been inconvenienced more and for longer than the Village of Mineola.”
Hochul announced the 9.8-mile track from Floral Park to Hicksville was completed both on time and under budget by $100 million four years after breaking ground.
The Main Line Expansion and 3rd Track Projects are both parts of a $17.7 billion investment into the Long Island Rail Road. Overall, the total investment is going toward the opening of Grand Central Madison, the LIRR Concourse at Penn Station, 13 miles of tracks between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma and infrastructure upgrades, among others.
Acting Interim LIRR President Catherine Rinaldi said during a news conference announcing the opening of the Elmont-UBS Arena station that there still is work to be done with the overall project.
“There are other elements of the project that we’re still finishing up,” Rinaldi told reporters outside the UBS Arena. “In terms of capturing the value of this infrastructure investment, we’re already starting to see that and more once the Grand Central Madison service starts later this year. There are remaining items to be done, but the benefits of this project we are seeing today.”
Floral Park officials also expressed similar sentiments, saying there is still work to be done in their village.
Trustee Jennifer Stewart, the liaison between the village and LIRR, said the village is maintaining an open line of communication with 3TC and the MTA specifically regarding the vehicular gate at Tunnel Street.
Mayor Kevin Fitzgerald said the village is continuing to address issues proactively as they rise in regard to anything related to the LIRR.
“The village realizes that there are final phases that remain to be completed on the Main Line and a number of issues that affect the residents of Floral Park that still need to be resolved,” Fitzgerald said at the most recent board meeting.
According to the LIRR website, Mineola and Floral Park’s upcoming construction as of Sept. 30 includes utility work, station enhancements and fencing installations, among other things.