A Nassau legislator is the latest elected official to raise concerns about an MTA plan to bring Metro-North Railroad trains into Penn Station.
Legis. David Denenberg (D-Merrick) sent a letter Wednesday to Metropolitan Transportation Authority chairman Thomas Prendergast and to Federal Transit Administration chief Peter Rogoff, seeking answers on the validity of the MTA's application to use $387 million in federal grant money earmarked for resiliency projects to boost its Penn Station Access project.
The $1.2 billion project aims to link Metro-North to the West Side terminal using existing Amtrak tracks.
"It seems logical to anyone who is a Long Island Rail Road commuter or who lives on Long Island that that resiliency funding was for the area that needs to be more resilient. And that's Long Island," Denenberg said at a Bellmore LIRR station news conference, at which he was joined by railroad commuters.
The MTA and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have defended the resiliency benefits of the project, which has been planned for more than a dozen years, saying that it would provide Metro-North a much-needed redundancy in the event that Grand Central was shut down in an emergency.
MTA officials noted the agency also has applied for federal funding for several efforts to shore up the LIRR.
Spokesman David Longo said the Federal Transit Administration is reviewing all applications and is "unable to comment until that process is complete and selections are made public."
Denenberg said he also was concerned that Metro-North trains could begin operating at Penn before the LIRR connects to Grand Central -- creating "a logjam" at the busy West Side Manhattan terminal.
MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg said the agency "certainly understands his concern," but vowed that "the MTA will not bring Metro-North to Penn Station until and unless East Side Access is up and running."