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LIRR to get $20.9M in Sandy funds, part of $193.1M MTA package

Millions in funds of federal Sandy aid have

Millions in funds of federal Sandy aid have been approved for the LIRR, which has reported nearly $5 billion in damage from the storm. Credit: Newsday

About $21 million in superstorm Sandy recovery funding is on its way to the Long Island Rail Road -- part of a nearly $200-million package for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday that the Federal Transit Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency had approved $193.1 million in funding for the MTA, including $20.9 million for the LIRR.

It's the first trickle of federal Sandy aid for the transit system, which has reported nearly $5 billion in damage from the storm.

"This funding is critical to help the LIRR recover financially from some of the costs from Sandy," interim MTA Executive Director Thomas Prendergast said. "We are pursuing every available dollar to reimburse the LIRR for Sandy-related costs."

The Oct. 29 storm flooded train tunnels, destroyed sensitive signal components and knocked dozens of trees and utility poles onto tracks.

The money from the FTA's Public Transit Emergency Relief Fund will largely go to reimburse MTA agencies for early expenses associated with the storm, but also includes millions of dollars to rebuild bridges, tunnels and other facilities.

"These federal dollars will help cover the costs of pre-storm preparations and initial recovery work that made it possible for the MTA to restore service as quickly as possible after the storm," Cuomo said in a statement. "The FTA's quick action will help rebuild our battered transit infrastructure and restore full service for the millions of commuters who rely on the MTA every day."

The $60.4 billion Sandy disaster relief legislation, signed by President Barack Obama in January, includes $10.8 billion for emergency transit funding.

"Mass transit is the very heart of the New York metropolitan area, and Sandy was a brutal shock to the system," Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. "This [the release of funds] is exactly what the doctor ordered to get our system not just fully repaired, but better to resist the next disaster."

New York City Transit is getting $141.6 million -- $17.9 million of which will go toward rebuilding the ravaged A subway line in the Rockaways.

Another $14.9 million will go to the Metro-North Railroad. And $3 million is dedicated to MTA bridges and tunnels, including the Hugh L. Carey (the Brooklyn-Battery) and Queens Midtown tunnels, which suffered heavy flooding damage.

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