MTA board approves $51.5 billion capital plan; LIRR to receive $5.7 billion

Robert Pelaez

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Trustees unanimously approved a $51.5 billion capital plan last Wednesday that includes $5.7 billion to revitalize the Long Island Rail Road.

The five-year plan plan provides money to the two major LIRR projects that are set to be completed by December 2022: the opening of East Side Access and the Main Line expansion.

Access to the East Side of Manhattan will save commuters from Long Island and Queens an approximate 40 minutes of travel time, according to estimates made by the MTA.  

Estimates also show that the direct service to the new eight-track terminal and concourse being built below Grand Central Terminal will serve over 160,000 customers per day. The project is one of the largest transportation infrastructure projects in the country, according to the agency. 

The Main Line Expansion project is adding a third track on the 9.8 miles from Floral Park to Hicksville. 

The project will feature new parking facilities, upgrades to railroad infrastructure and other local improvements to reduce delays and improving commutes for more than 300,000 riders per day, according to the project’s website.

“This plan continues the historic level of commitment from the State and the MTA to invest in the Long Island economy,” said David Kapell, executive director of the Right Track for Long Island Coalition. “By investing historic levels in the LIRR core plan, and completing East Side Access and Main Line Expansion, this plan will improve the reliability of train service, create jobs, and provide the underpinning for the Island’s continuing shift toward smart growth and transit-oriented development.”

Along with the two main projects, the plan calls for spending more than $2.2 billion for LIRR track upgrades, replacement signals and switches, as well as station accessibility and general improvements.

Phil Eng, president of the LIRR, said  modernization of trains and stations would enable “us to continue to accelerate our systemwide core improvements.”

According to an MTA news release, close to half of the total cost, $25 billion, will be coming from bonds that are protected by new revenue streams that were approved in this year’s New York State budget. That includes $15 billion from tolls in the central business district, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in April. 

The other $10 billion will be bonds backed by  new revenue sources dedicated to public transportation, according to the release.  The remaining funds will be from a combination of federal funding programs, capital contributions and financial pledges by Cuomo and the State of New York, which are subject to approval by the Legislature.


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