GARDEN CITY, NY—The controversial Third Track or “Fast Track” project proposed for the main line of the Long Island Rail Road would help create 14,000 jobs on Long Island by the year 2035 or 10 years after the project’s anticipated completion.
The economic impact of the project to add an additional track to a 9.8-mile segment of the LIRR Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville was the subject of a report released earlier this week by The Long Island Index, a project of the Rauch Foundation. The report titled “The Economic and Fiscal Impacts of the Long Island Rail Road Main Line Third Track” states that construction of the Third Track would represent a $1.2-billion investment in the Long Island economy over a five-year period. That investment would yield 2,250 average annual jobs creations, $910 million in cumulative personal income and $910 million in cumulative gross regional product.
“The Fast Track’s positive growth potential for Long Island is enormous,” says Nancy Rauch Douzinas, president of the Rauch Foundation. “There is no other single project on the drawing boards that has the potential to increase Long Island’s economy more than this.”
Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association and co-vice chair of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, adds, “The study commissioned by the Long Island Index provides further evidence that the Third Track project could be a game changer for our region by improving reliability for commuters, adding new jobs, and facilitating economic growth and more transit-oriented development.”
The report notes that reverse commuting has been a major economic driver for areas such as Northern New Jersey, Westchester County, and Southern Connecticut, but not on Long Island. The Long Island Index recently issued a separate report that noted Long Island has only 195,000 square feet of retail space under construction, compared to nearly 3.77 million square feet in Northern New Jersey and 1.98 million square feet in the Westchester/Southern Connecticut region.
The Third Track would allow significant levels of reverse peak and intra-Island service to Main Line stations, while increasing capacity for the Port Jefferson Branch, Montauk Branch, Ronkonkoma Branch, and Oyster Bay Branch. It would also allow LIRR commuters to achieve the full benefits of the East Side Access project and expand and improve the Long Island workforce by providing a viable reverse-commute service, while also enhancing opportunities for transit-oriented development, thus creating live/work settings that meet the needs of new-economy firms and workers, the report suggests.