Home Transit News Passenger Rail Long Island Rail Road third-track funding reveals difficulties

Long Island Rail Road third-track funding reveals difficulties

By Larry Penner

Long Island Rail Road (Getty Images)

There is more to the recent approval of $1.95 billion to support construction of the Long Island Rail Road Main Line Third Track by the Albany Metropolitan Transportation Authority Capital Program Review Board. These funds were part of a $3 billion MTA 2015 – 2019 Five Year Capital Program Amendment, which increased the total budget from $29 to $32 billion. Over the past 30 years, estimates for construction of the Main Line Third Track have grown from $600 million to $1.5 billion two years ago and $2 billion today. The final cost could be even higher when completed in four years. Who will pay for any potential change orders and cost overruns? Not Uncle Sam. Here is why.

The Main Line Third Track Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was found to be in compliance with the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQUA). Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the MTA Board and other project supporters never questioned why the National Environmental Protect Action (NEPA) process was not followed. Without the compliance with NEPA, the MTA forfeits any opportunity to access United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration or Federal Highway Administration funding. Governor Cuomo, the MTA Board, MTA HQ and LIRR senior leadership had no interest in applying for USDOT FTA capital funding for this project. Was it to avoid federal oversight for the project from the environmental review process through construction? Read more of the original article.

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