Besides accessibility upgrades at two LIRR stations, more projects could...

Besides accessibility upgrades at two LIRR stations, more projects could be canceled because congestion pricing was shelved. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Accessibility-upgrade projects at a pair of Queens train stations are among the first Long Island Rail Road casualties of Gov. Hochul's decision to nix the MTA's congestion pricing plan, documents show.

An MTA Board member said other LIRR-related projects are also on the chopping block because of the funding shortfall.

In a Monday letter obtained by Newsday, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials told its contractor that it was “hereby directed to stop all work associated with Forest Hills and Hollis Stations.”

Both LIRR stations were slated for major renovations, including the addition of a heated ramp at Forest Hills and a ramp and elevator at Hollis. The two projects, combined, would have cost the MTA about $152 million, according to agency documents.

A third accessibility project that was part of the same contract will add an elevator at Babylon. That project “is unaffected by this Stop Work Order and is to continue,” according to the letter signed by MTA Construction and Development executive Steven Leidner.

MTA Board member Marc Herbst, who represents Suffolk, said some planned work related to the $11 billion East Side Access project, which brought the LIRR to Grand Central, and upgrades to the LIRR’s busy Harold Interlocking in Queens also “will not be going forward.”

MTA officials declined to discuss specifics about projects that might be cut, and said more details would be released at a pair of MTA Board and committee meetings on Monday and Wednesday.

The agency on Tuesday confirmed it had issued “stop work orders” on some projects already underway, including the $7 billion Second Avenue Subway project.

Hochul has suggested there is no need for the MTA to halt any of its planned capital projects. In a statement Friday, Hochul spokesperson Anthony Hogrebe said the governor “has stated repeatedly that she is committed to funding the MTA and is working with partners in government on funding mechanisms for the MTA while congestion pricing is paused.”

Following Hochul’s June 5 announcement that she was ordering an “indefinite pause” on congestion pricing, the MTA said it has no choice but to “shrink” its current capital program, which relied on the expected toll revenue to support $15 billion in planned infrastructure projects.

Herbst, who was briefed about some of the forthcoming changes, said the MTA’s focus will be on “projects that will sustain the system.”

“That’s the most important thing. So the expansion of the system or major improvements are going to be either, delayed, or, eventually, canceled,” said Herbst, who noted that he’s particularly concerned with the fate of a planned effort to relocate and expand the LIRR’s Yaphank station. “I’m hopeful that we’ll get everything back on track, whatever the funding source is to fill that hole.”

“We’re still working very hard to figure out the implications and how we respond to the impact on the current capital program,” MTA Construction and Development president Jamie Torres-Springer said at a press event Tuesday. “There are a lot of projects that we will not be able to build.”

MTA chairman and CEO Janno Lieber has said that, despite having to downsize its capital budget, the transit agency would “make sure that we squeeze out as much station accessibility work as possible.” Under the terms of settlements to several lawsuits filed by disability rights groups, the MTA is required to make accessibility upgrades at many subway and LIRR stations.

Christopher Grief, who sits on the LIRR’s Americans with Disabilities Act Task Force, said he was “disappointed” with the news of the two LIRR Queens station accessibility projects being shelved.

“It will strand them,” said Grief, who urged elected officials to come up with the funding to move the station projects forward. “There are the disabled. There are seniors. There are veterans. There are women with baby strollers … They have the right to get on the train safely.”

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