Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's NYS2100 Commission, tasked with finding ways to improve the state's infrastructure in the face of natural disasters, included Double Track among its key projects. The commission reported that the second rail line would "provide a vital redundancy by allowing alternative routing" of trains and ensuring the delivery of resources to Suffolk.
Some riders on the LIRR's Long Beach line, which did not have full service restored for a month after Sandy, questioned spending the money on Double Track.
"Having another line in Farmingdale isn't going to help me much and definitely not the people in this area," Jack Dock, 75, said as he waited for a train at his home station of Island Park, one of the most flood-prone stations in the LIRR system. "I'm not going to Farmingdale if I live on the South Shore."
MTA board member Mitchell Pally said using federal funding for Double Track would not come at the expense of other disaster mitigation projects. "There was nothing that wasn't going to get done," Pally said.
He added that freeing up money in the MTA's next five-year capital plan -- where the second phase of the project would probably have been included -- could allow the LIRR to tackle other projects that would help it withstand storms but are not eligible for federal funding. Those could include building new rail yards to store trains.
Some transit advocacy groups, including the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and the Regional Plan Association, support the use of Sandy funds for Double Track, which they said would provide some riders with a much-needed backup plan in an emergency.