Boating is getting safer in Suffolk and Nassau counties.

Boating is getting safer in Suffolk and Nassau counties. Credit: Steve Pfost

Daily Point

Two lawsuits down, one to go

Turns out you do need a score card to keep track of all the legal plays in the New York State redistricting games. On Wednesday, State Supreme Court Justice Laurence Love in Manhattan rejected a second attempt to rewrite the new map for the Assembly, saying that “we have already passed the point of no return.”

The state Board of Elections had argued it would be too costly and difficult to do so because ballots for the June primary already are printed. The action was filed by Gavin Wax, who heads the New York Young Republican Club in Manhattan, and upstate Democrat Gary Greenberg.

The second strikeout of the day came in federal court when U.S. District Court Judge Paul Engelmayer rejected efforts by the state’s League of Women Voters to consolidate the June 28 Assembly and statewide primaries with the Aug. 23 House and State Senate races. The LWV, which confirmed the outcome of the case, also had asked the judge to reopen petitions for statewide offices and extend the time period for independent, or third parties to get on the November ballot. In the federal case, the LWV said the constitutional rights of New Yorkers were being violated.

But the game isn’t over yet. Last Friday, while the political world was waiting for the final special master’s maps to be released, the LWV tiptoed into an Albany court, filing an Article 78 proceeding to stop the state Board of Elections from conducting the June 28 primary. The LWV contends that the BOE is abusing its power because the Assembly map is invalid. State Supreme Court Justice Peter Lynch signed a show-cause order on their claim and set a hearing for May 31. It may be over but it ain’t over yet.

— Rita Ciolli @ritaciolli

Talking Point

Boating accidents decline

It should surprise few that Suffolk and Nassau counties rank first and second for boat registrations in the entire state. We may have only 15% of the state's population, but we account for more than 20% of the state's registered boats.

Suffolk County's 53,000 registered boats more than double Nassau's 24,000. Monroe County comes in a close third with 21,000 registered boats.

The latest recreational boating accident data shows that Long Island reported 64 accidents in 2021, continuing its downward trend since 2018 when we reported 152 accidents. The region had 33% of boating accidents in 2021, also a significant improvement from 2018's 75%.

As New York’s accident count continues to hover, a bill in the state Assembly transportation committee would amend the law that requires boating safety courses to be completed once every three years. The bill would require that current safety certificate holders take an exam to show that they are up to date on the latest rules. These safety certificates do not expire, and as of 2022 anyone born in or after 1988 is required to have one.

By 2025, all motorboat operators regardless of age will need a safety certificate.

The current requirement was introduced in what’s commonly known as Brianna's Law in 2019. It’s named after Brianna Lieneck, a Long Island girl who was killed in a 2005 boating crash in the Great South Bay.

— Kai Teoh @jkteoh

Pencil Point

MAGA-phobia

Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Mike Luckovich

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons

Final Point

Tunnel repair on track

It only took a decade.

Two crumbling East River tunnels, damaged severely by Superstorm Sandy, may finally be on track to get the fixes they need.

Amtrak officials tell The Point that work on the design of the tunnels, which pre-pandemic carried most of the Long Island Rail Road’s 300,000 riders each day, is complete and that preparing the tunnels for closure and rehab is underway.

The railroad giant isn’t expecting to begin the full rehab on the first tunnel until early 2024, a year after the East Side Access connection to Grand Central Terminal opens. That tunnel will be closed for about a year. Then, there will be a year without a closure, followed by another yearlong closure of the second tube. Officials hope that East Side Access will ease the pain of the train tunnel closures, since it will use a different tunnel that goes under the East River and Roosevelt Island to get to Grand Central; the project was conceived in the 1950s and has taken $11.2 billion to build.

Also helpful: Right now, Amtrak is focusing on hardening the infrastructure on the second tunnel as it likely will take on more train traffic during the closure. Officials are hoping that by doing that, there won’t be emergency problems in the tube that stays open.

These steps mark significant progress for the tunnel project, which has been slow to get started.

“Amtrak is eager to move forward and appreciates our partners’ focus and cooperation,” spokesman Jason Abrams told The Point, noting that Amtrak works to “coordinate closely” with the MTA and New Jersey Transit.

However, during an MTA committee meeting this week, MTA Construction & Development president Jamie Torres-Springer emphasized the need for Amtrak to “provide us with adequate forces and outages to get the work done.”

Such collaboration hasn't always occurred as MTA and Amtrak spent years clashing on how to do the tunnel work, who would pay, when to start and how long it would take. But last December, Sen. Chuck Schumer helped jump-start the effort by brokering a deal between the two railroads that led Amtrak to commit to paying $500 million toward the Metro-North Railroad’s Penn Access project, in exchange for the MTA agreeing to pay $432 million toward the East River Tunnel repairs.

Beyond that deal-making, new leadership at Amtrak, particularly in terms of its capital projects, seems to have helped, too. Now heading Amtrak’s large capital and infrastructure efforts is Laura Mason, who came to the railroad last year. Mason, officials said, has been instrumental in how Amtrak handles its big projects and how it works with the other players like the MTA.

Timing is critical. Like with the planned remake of Penn Station, Amtrak and the MTA have a short window to get the tunnel rehab done. The goal: Start all of that work after East Side Access opens and finish it all long before Penn Access, which eventually will connect Metro-North to Penn Station, opens.

— Randi F. Marshall @RandiMarshall