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Letter: Construction funds vital for MTA

Contractors work on the East Side Access Project

Contractors work on the East Side Access Project on Jan 29, 2013, below midtown Manhattan. A new MTA budget in September 2014 includes the East Side access to Grand Central Terminal. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

This week, legislators in Albany are due to go home for the summer. With the clock ticking, an issue with huge implications for Long Island might not get addressed: finding revenue to close a $14 billion gap in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's capital plan.

This is the MTA's five-year construction plan, which includes state-of-good-repair projects like new power and signaling systems. The plan also includes expansion and enhancement projects such as East Side Access, the second track from Ronkonkoma to Farmingdale, and a new Long Island Rail Road station at Republic Airport.

The past 30 years of MTA investments in Long Island have yielded a 19 percent increase in LIRR ridership and improved performance, due in large part to those elected officials and governors who championed increased investment.

Three decades of successes are now threatened by a system increasingly stressed by a lack of capacity, aging infrastructure and more frequent severe weather events. Without the projects in the capital plan, the commuting experience will not improve.

We need to invest in a transit system that addresses future needs. The East Side Access project will bring LIRR trains into Grand Central Terminal on Manhattan's East Side for the first time. There is $2.6 billion in the capital program for this project.

Two contracts for East Side Access worth $1 billion are scheduled to move forward in the next couple of months, but would be stuck in limbo without a fully funded capital plan.

Projects are not only in jeopardy, construction jobs are, too. We are looking to Long Island's state delegation and the governor for leadership on this issue.

Marcia Bystryn

Veronica Vanterpool


Editor's note: The writers are, respectively, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters and director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.


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