The View From Here

Last month, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority began the work of raising the railway tracks above the much-battered trestles at North Main Street and Accabonac Road in East Hampton Village. For neighbors Down Hook, it has become something of a sport to wager when the next overambitious driver will wedge a too-tall truck under the bridge. This has its humorous side, it’s true, but the potential damage to the tracks and trestles from repeated strikes by drivers who ignore warning signs isn’t really a laughing matter. Readers might recall one of the more dramatic truck-versus-trestle crashes, in 2014, when a driver who had begun work only the day before behind the wheel of a garbage truck hit the underpass so hard it shifted the Long Island Rail Road tracks.

The project, which began last week with the clearing of trees and underbrush from the south side of the embankment, revealing the bare embankment in all its midwinter ugliness, will cost nearly $20 million and take some 18 months.

It isn’t entirely clear how much higher the actual trains chugging through town will ride once all is said and done, but, according to M.T.A. engineers who spoke at a meeting of the village board in the fall, the distance from road asphalt to underside of underpass — the space to be driven through — will increase to 14 feet from a current height of about 10 or 11 feet.

There isn’t much to be done once the heavy equipment rolls out on an M.T.A. project like this, but it seems that the village board is still in negotiations with the M.T.A. on certain aspects of its aesthetic impact on what is, in essence, the visual centerpiece of the business district: Hook Hill, which is so central to the image of East Hampton that it appears on the official village seal. How will the planned ground-to-track-level wall of shaped concrete blocks — a wall that will replace the tree-covered embankment — look as a visual frame for the windmill? Should the concrete “stones” be tinted brown or green? As it is, on clear days you can already see Dump Mountain in the distance behind the windmill, if you are passing near Citarella. 

M.T.A., we’re watching you.