Journey of a thousand miles may begin with a few trains

There can be a fine line between being optimistic and being naive.

But complacency is a bigger danger than naivetà .

It’s easy to sit back and assume that restoring a rail spur to carry freight trains into the Enterprise Park at Calverton won’t do a thing to reduce traffic congestion on the Long Island Expressway and elsewhere, despite elected officials’ assertions to the contrary.

It’s also easy to dismiss the MTA’s plan to spend almost $3 million to study the feasibility of running smaller, diesel-powered “scoot” trains on the East End — and in other areas served by the MTA — as a waste of time and money, and unlikely ever to happen.

The fact is, however, we are tied to our cars here, and it’s a bad situation for us all. Every day, we and our loved ones travel on extremely dangerous highways while paying sky-high insurance premiums and filling our cars with petroleum purchased from hostile countries. Never mind all the fluctuating gas prices and the traffic.

Long Island isn’t getting any bigger, but the volume of traffic will only rise, as will the population. We need a way out of this mess. A spirit of optimism — without fear of being naive — is a necessary component for us to take any steps forward, no matter how small they may seem at the time. Without the right attitude, nothing ever gets done.

And in recent weeks, we’ve gotten some welcome news.

The so-called juror train was one breakthrough. The first arrived last Monday in downtown Riverhead on a schedule that delivers jurors in time for duty in the courts. Also, there was word that the MTA will study a way to provide reliable mass transit on the East End. And just this weekend, the long-dormant rail spur in Calverton was connected to LIRR’s main line. Trains will be able to reach the sprawling Enterprise Park next year.

These projects are just a few ways to get cars off our roads.

Imagine hundreds of new ideas like these, all being implemented, across Nassau and Suffolk. Then we would be getting somewhere.