The MTA, facing a potential Republican veto of its $2 billion proposal to build a third track on the LIRR’s Main Line, withdrew — and immediately resubmitted — the plan Friday night.
Approaching a midnight deadline by which the state’s Capital Program Review Board could stop the project, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority pulled its application to amend its existing five-year capital plan to include the Long Island Rail Road Expansion Project.
But by resubmitting the plan, the MTA restarts a 30-day review clock.
Within that review period, any of the board’s members could veto the plan. Doing so would force the MTA Board to once again vote on approving the $2 billion plan.
The initial vote last month was a tentative one, with some New York City members expressing concern over the big expenditure.
The resubmitting move came amid concern that Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) — the Republican-controlled Senate’s representative on the state review board — was going to vote down the project.
MTA interim executive director Veronique Hakim said agency officials “are confident that any remaining questions will be answered in this time.”
Senate Republicans from Nassau have expressed concerns that the project would negatively impact quality of life for their constituents, and have said any amendment to the MTA’s $30 billion capital program should come with investments to modernize the entire LIRR system, and not just the 9.8-mile corridor between Floral Park and Hicksville.
In a statement, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) commended the MTA for pulling the plan and said he looked forward to reviewing the resubmitted plan.
“Given the derailments and service disruptions that have jeopardized rider safety and paralyzed the region’s mobility, the withdrawal of this proposed amendment will provide the MTA and its chairman, Joe Lhota, with the opportunity to develop a comprehensive solution to the ongoing commuter crisis,” Flanagan said.
Kevin Law, co-chairman of the Right Track for Long Island Coalition — a pro-third track lobbying group — said that while it was “disappointing” that the original plan was not approved, he believes Senate Republicans “will ultimately do the right thing for Long Island and allow the third track to move forward.”
The MTA’s decision to pull the plan came hours after news surfaced that it had won over two of its staunchest opponents. In separate statements issued Friday, Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi and New Hyde Park Mayor Lawrence Montreuil said their concerns over the project’s impact on their villages’ quality of life had been addressed and that they were prepared to see the plan go forward.
“Today, the Village of New Hyde Park is confident that our concerns about local construction impacts are being addressed to the greatest extent feasible and that the quality of life in our Village will be preserved as this Project progresses,” Montreuil wrote.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who proposed the project in January 2016, and LIRR officials have said the project will provide needed capacity at one of the worst bottlenecks in the railroad system, and also facilitate reverse commuting and drive up property values.
But opponents — including scores of New Hyde Park and Floral Park villagers who spoke at several public hearings — have been adamant in their opposition to the project. They say construction, which the LIRR said could begin later this year and last three to four years, could be devastating to businesses, traffic and their suburban lifestyles.
The LIRR has promised to minimize the potential impacts of the project, including by building retaining walls and sound barrier walls adjacent to the new track, closely monitoring noise and vibrations, and studying ways to improve traffic.