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By sheer size (roughly 2.8 million people), Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island could be considered an urban area, but they are in fact metropolitan suburban counties contiguous to New York City. Annual vehicle miles traveled (17.5 billion in the two counties) reflect their ongoing dependence on automobile, and presage increasing amounts of congestion with its accompanying lost time and dollars.

Adding to this congestion, freight on and to Long Island is carried almost entirely by long-haul trucks. Recent figures from FHWA’s Freight Management and Operations Office indicate that in 2006, the national average for the share of goods carried by freight rail (by weight) was nearly 10%, but less than 2% for goods moved by rail east of the Hudson River (Cross Harbor DEIS), and even less on Long Island itself.

Finding sustainable alternatives to truck-borne freight is critical for Long Island, not just for reducing congestion and the concurrent emissions and energy waste, but also for maintaining the area’s quality of life for its residents. Rail freight provides one of these alternatives. Thus, the CIUS Study Team proposes a comprehensive approach to determining the appropriate site for a truck/rail transfer facility within the context of the overall process of freight delivery in the New York State Metropolitan region.

The effort will consist of two primary components: First, historical studies will be reviewed in light of subsequent developments to answer the basic question: should one or more truck/rail transfer yard(s) be built on Long Island to mitigate the problems associated with current and projected levels of truck traffic and the need for more efficient goods distribution. Second, consultations with stakeholders during the site selection and analysis process, especially communities near the Pilgrim State Hospital site, will be central to the Study. The Study Team will listen to their concerns and suggestions, regarding for example, alternative sites, and rely upon them for information not easily accessed in the existing written literature.

With respect to the literature, the Study Team will review relevant studies, analyses and environmental impact statements and examine any pertinent changes or forecasts that may alter the rationale for selecting Pilgrim State or another site for an intermodal facility. Because of the short deadline for the Study, the Team will rely primarily, on existing information. However, the Team will review and update existing information on the freight market as it affects the facility with regard to commodities, demand, costs, rail operations, and logistics.

A critical initial task will be to develop criteria for selecting potential sites for the truck/rail facility and for analyzing suitable sites in detail after consultation with representatives from a wide range of local and regional interests. Among these criteria may be the size of the site, its configuration, distance from rail and main highways, the condition of the local road connections and relation to nearby sensitive land uses. Site analysis will include such elements as the importance of the current use of the site, site assembly and cost factors, surrounding land uses and proposed plans and the impact of the facility on traffic congestion, travel time, energy use and highway maintenance.