2016-03-30 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Trump Reenacts 1934

To The Editor:

On August 2, 1934 the German Army assembled and stated with arms raised, “I swear by God this sacred oath to the Leader of the German Empire and people, Adolph Hitler….” On March 5, 2016 Trump asked supporters to raise their right arms and “solemnly swear” that they would vote for him.

Remarkable how few have condemned Trump for the reenactment of 1934. Powerfully absent is the revulsion to those who complied. The efforts by mainstream Republicans to avoid alienating Trump’s supporters defines them as willing to sell out morals for political expediency.

The Republican establishment is twisting and turning in all manner of contrivances to deny Trump the nomination while keeping his supporters loyal to the party. Does there not come a time that principles overtake political opportunism? When a soul is traded to the devil can the consequences be surprising? Some establishment Republicans reputedly are supporting Ted Cruz as the Trump alternative. The belief is that Trump will destroy the party while Cruz will lose but keep intact the Republican brand. But without rejecting the extremists that would follow Trump regardless of any offense or violation that is in violation to the Constitution or Bill of Rights what would be a legitimate Republican Party?

Ed Horn
Baldwin

LIRR Resume Service

To The Editor:

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’ recent support of Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley’s proposal to introduce Light Rail train service on portions of the old Long Island Rail Road Montauk branch (Long Island City to Jamaica) sounds great on paper. As always, the devil is in the details. There has been no planning feasibility studies, environmental documents or preliminary design and engineering efforts necessary to validate any basic estimates for construction costs. Ms. Crowley’s belief that it would be well under $100 million doesn’t add up. New Jersey Transit’s Hudson Bergen Light Rail cost $1.2 billion and Newark Elizabeth Light Rail cost $694 million 16 years ago. Clearly costs would be far greater in today’s dollars.

There are no dollars programmed to support any work for advancement of this project contained with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s original $32 billion or revised $28 billion Five Year 2015 - 2019 Five Year Capital Plan. The same is true under the upcoming NYC $78 billion July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017 municipal budget. Will Councilmember Crowley ask her benefactor, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to fund the West Queens Light Rail Study? Speaker Mark-Viverito can dip into her several hundred million member item pork barrel program distributed to “loyal” councilmembers. Will Borough President Katz do likewise with her own discretionary budget? Talk is cheap, but actions speak louder. Don’t hold your breath waiting.

Cost estimates would have to be refined as progress proceeds beyond the planning and environmental phases into real and final design efforts. History has shown that estimated costs for construction usually trend upwards as projects mature toward 100% final design. Progression of final design refines the detailed scope of work necessary to support construction. The anticipated final potential cost would never be known until completion. Costs would be further refined by award of construction contracts followed by any unforeseen site conditions and change orders to the base contracts during the course of construction.

The proposed route will traverse several neighborhoods impacting thousands of people living nearby. How will they react to potential noise and visual impacts? There are serious legal and operational issues to be resolved with the Federal Rail Road Administration. They have regulatory jurisdiction over significant portions of the proposed route which would run on existing active freight tracks. You have to deal with light rail and freight trains coexisting on the same narrow corridor. There is no available project budget to justify key project component costs. They would have to cover a series of new stations. These will have to meet the Americans Disability Act (ADA) access standards; grade crossing, signal and safety improvements, a fleet of new light rail vehicles, land acquisition, potential business relocation along with construction of a new maintenance, operations and storage yard to support any light rail car fleet. Which neighborhood will want to step forward and host the maintenance, operations and storage yard?

Other Queens elected officials, transit riders and transit advocacy groups all have their own transportation priority projects which may conflict with this proposal. The MTA New York City Transit conducted a feasibility study during the 1980s to convert this LIRR branch to a subway on the ground. Intense vocal local community opposition killed this project before it progressed beyond a planning study. The same community opposition may also come out against any active light rail as well.

You would have to wait for approval of MTA’s next Five Year 2020 - 2024 Capital Program for any chance of funding. The alternative would be 100% NYC funding which is very doubtful. Rather than spend several hundred million dollars to build a Light Rail system which could take a decade or more, why not ask the LIRR to resume service on this corridor? They could run a two-car scoot service reconnecting Long Island City, Glendale and Middle Village with other communities, including Richmond Hill and other intermediate stops to Jamaica. The LIRR could use existing equipment which would afford far earlier implementation of service versus Light Rail. This would provide connections east-bound to the J/Z and E subway lines, Kennedy Airport via Train to Plane and Jamaica LIRR Station. Queens residents traveling to jobs and colleges in Nassau and Suffolk counties would have access to all LIRR branches except the Port Washington line. Ditto for those traveling to the Barclay Center and Downtown Brooklyn via the LIRR Atlantic Avenue branch.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

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