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Letters: Maintain existing LIRR equipment first

An LIRR train disappears into a tunnel westbound

An LIRR train disappears into a tunnel westbound on the way to Penn Station via an East River tunnel under the 49th Avenue underpass in Hunter's Point, Queens onMay 11, 2011. Credit: Craig Ruttle

For most of a week, Long Island Rail Road workers toiled to replace a signal box that was crushed in a March 29 derailment west of Wyandanch station ["LIRR working on signal box," News, April 2]. Tens of thousands of commuters waited through delays and cancellations as a result.

The destroyed device had 30-year-old components no longer in production. The box contains circuitry for three crossings and the railroad's speed-control system. How could something so critical be so outdated?

Rather than spend billions of dollars to connect the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal so people won't have to walk a couple blocks, why isn't the Metropolitan Transportation Authority spending money to make sure the existing infrastructure works? Crews shouldn't have to go back to 30-year-old documents and scramble to build something from scratch that controls how hundreds of thousand of riders use trains every day.

Michael Connor, Centereach