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Long Island Island Railroad

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During his State of the County address, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) presented an ambitious vision for a state-of-the-art north terminal at Long Island MacArthur Airport that would connect to both a newly erected convention center and to the main line of the Long Island Rail Road. 

“Every great region must have a great regional airport and no one can deny that Long Island is one of the great regions in the nation,” Bellone said.  

While Bellone is correct that Long Island is a great region and that it could benefit from a modernized airport terminal at MacArthur, the staff of TBR News Media would like to remind the county executive that there is still so much work to be done before this dream can ever materialize. 

In its present form, Long Island’s prehistoric mass transit network is vastly unprepared to support Bellone’s grand vision. Look no further than the Long Island Expressway to discover the backward state of transportation affairs on the Island. 

If one is lucky enough to be on the road at an hour when the expressway is not crammed with cars and trucks, there still remains the herculean task of dodging potholes. Out-of-state residents are horrified by the medieval conditions of this roadway — and the carnage inflicted upon their tires and front axles. 

The LIRR offers little alternative. While railways around the nation and globe have modernized and expedited their services, Suffolk County residents ride home at a sluggish pace aboard rickety train cars. Riding the LIRR today is uncomfortable, exhausting and, frankly, not worth the price of the ticket. 

Our airways do require a modern renovation, but so do our railways and roadways. Policymakers and regional planners need to consider these projects in tandem. Airports and train stations are not standalone facilities but part of a broader, integrated transportation ecosystem. It is that ecosystem that needs an overhaul.

It makes little sense for Suffolk County residents to dodge potholes en route to their state-of-the-art regional airport. It is equally nonsensical to bring 20th-century train cars into a modernized transportation hub. 

In Suffolk County, leaders offer us bold visions for change without a roadmap to get us there. Our various public transit systems are remnants of a bygone way of life, artifacts of a time when the county had far fewer residents. 

The challenges of immobility are real, likely a result of failed planning some decades ago. Our residents require relief right now as their freedom of movement and quality of life are both dangerously impeded. 

TBR News Media sees the benefits of a modernized terminal at MacArthur, and believes Bellone’s idea is a good one. But there is a whole lot of work to be done before we can get there.