LIRR: Smooth Operator or Rife With Problems?

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MTA train
The Long Island Rail Road isn't just fraught with fraud: Looks like the MTA's plan to hook up the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal might be delayed a third time, the New York Post reports.

What this means? The long-awaited, $7 billion connection wouldn't be complete until 2019, four years after the originally planned date.

MTA Honcho Joe Lhota said yesterday that workers had hit serious tunneling problems on the Queens side.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority wouldn't confirm all the Post's claims. But a spokesman had this to say to the Voice in a statement:

"Metropolitan Transportation Authority is reevaluating the risks in the construction schedule for the East Side Access project, and plans to present its findings to the Capital Program Oversight Committee later this month. One preliminary analysis of risk factors has indicated the completion date may move to 2019, as East Side Access construction intensifies in the busiest passenger rail yard and the largest passenger rail interchange in the nation.

The analysis is not complete, and the MTA is identifying ways to mitigate those risk factors to allow the project to be completed as early as possible. The MTA continues to work with its partners at the Federal Transit Administration to update the East Side Access funding agreement to reflect the new schedule.

Amtrak and the MTA are working closely together on East Side Access and improvements to the East River tunnels and the Harold Interlocking to accommodate the roughly 500,000 passengers who rely on 1,200 train movements through the region each day. Senior executives at Amtrak, the MTA and NJ Transit regularly meet to coordinate construction activities and do everything possible to keep work moving forward."

Of course, if you have been following the MTA of late, you'll surely have heard about some of controversy surrounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo's capital finance plan and might wonder: Will this delay cost more money? Will the MTA be able to afford this project? Will it impact big transit projects? Will it make fares go up?

An MTA spokesman told the Voice that the LIRR delays will not impact cost, and that they do not affect the capital plan or fares.

We're trying to get a better understanding of what these delays mean both for commuters and for the public purse. So we've reached out to several transportation experts, and will update if we hear back.

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.


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