Senator Johnson Voices Continued Opposition To The Litrim Freight Project

Craig M. Johnson

September 21, 2007

I share their concerns and have stated so publicly and in the newspapers. Again, though I am thankful to you for hosting this hearing, I would like to reiterate my request that you hold another hearing in Nassau so that more residents from those communities along the Third Track corridor have a more accessible opportunity to have their voices be heard.

The biggest problem for my constituents, as I see it, is that you have the LITRIM project out here in Suffolk which will be overseen by the DOT.

Then you have Third Track, which is an MTA project. But when you ask the DOT about Third Track, their response has consistently been to take no ownership of the project because it is an MTA project. If you ask MTA about LITRIM, they tell you to talk to the DOT.

This is ludicrous for the residents. They are tired of public agencies bouncing them around under the guise of, 'Sorry, it's not my problem. Call the other guy.'

There are 33 Villages in my district, all or parts of three towns, the County, the Federal government and an untold number of special districts. Many constituent issues that are fielded by my office are of problems to be handled by any one of these jurisdictions. However, my policy is to not simply shuffle them off to another government. I and my staff work with the constituent and the other governments to make sure their problem is solved by the right organization in the right manner.

On a larger scale, this situation is no different. These projects are regional in nature, and it does not matter that they are being handled by different agencies. We all have to work together. In fact, I am going to make an addition tonight to my previous statements. I have already stated that I vehemently oppose the Third Track and LITRIM projects unless a plan is proposed that meets the approval of the community and local government leaders. I would like to add that, in addition to my prior conditions, I will continue to oppose the Third Track, as well as LITRIM, until the DOT and the MTA agree to work together in a cooperative, regional effort, to ensure that all residents are informed of the progress of their projects in a coordinated manner – that residents are given ample opportunity to voice their concerns at public hearings in proximity to their communities – and that any changes to any plans relating to these and other transportation projects in the region are provided to the public in a speedy time-fame. These conditions are not a precursor to my support of these projects. They are nothing more than a starting point, where I believe the real dialog can then begin.

Again, thank you for your time this evening. I look forward to working with you and with the community on these and other projects.”

The Senator's testimony was read into the record by his Chief of Staff, Rafe Lieber. The hearing conflicted with a meeting of the Commission of Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness in Albany. Senator Johnson is a member of this panel, which is examining ways to make local government less expensive and more responsive, and was unable to attend the LITRIM hearing.