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Lawmakers: East Side Access project needs more help from Amtrak

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has said Amtrak is largely to blame for delays and cost overruns recently encountered by the $11.2 billion project, which is scheduled for completion by 2022.

A section of Long Island Rail Road tunnels

A section of Long Island Rail Road tunnels that will provide commuter-rail service between Long Island and Grand Central Station, Manhattan, Wednesday, April 11, 2018. The tunnel is part of the Long Island Rail Road's East Side Access Project that is scheduled to provide commuter-rail service to the east side of Manhattan in 2022. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Three federal lawmakers are urging Amtrak to better cooperate with the MTA’s efforts to link the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal as part of its East Side Access project.

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens), and Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) sent a letter to Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson on Friday requesting that the national passenger railroad “immediately provide the human resources that are needed” to keep East Side Access on schedule.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has said Amtrak is largely to blame for delays and cost overruns recently encountered by the $11.2 billion project, which is scheduled for completion by 2022.

The MTA has said, despite previously agreeing to do so, Amtrak has not provided needed resources at a key construction site in Queens, including help from workers needed to oversee work involving Amtrak’s overhead electrical lines.

Amtrak has said its ability to assist has been hampered by its involvement in other projects in and around Penn Station.

“This situation is of grave concern to us as it affects the quality of life of our constituents,” the members of Congress wrote. “We understand that a commitment by Amtrak to provide these additional workers will alleviate the situation and would avert further delays.”

Stephen Gardner, executive vice president and chief commercial officer for Amtrak, said that while the agency disagrees with the MTA about “past history and obligations,” it recognizes the benefit of East Side Access.

“We are working cooperatively to find ways to increase support for the project while also advancing the many other critical projects around Penn Station,” Gardner said.

MTA spokesman Jon Weinstein on Friday said the agency is “grateful to have the backing of New Yorkers in Congress who are holding [Amtrak’s] feet to the fire.”

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