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Long Island Contractors' Association


Senate passes bill prioritizing LIRR 2nd track

by John Callegari
March 15, 2012

The United States Senate voted Wednesday to approve the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill, which Sen. Charles Schumer said will allow the MTA to make a second track on the Long Island Rail Road a priority.

The $109 billion bill was overwhelmingly passed with bipartisan support.

The bill must now be approved by the House of Representatives, where a different version of the bill is currently idling.

One of the major impediments to the MTA's plan for a second rail has been a federal mandate requiring the implementation of Positive Train Control signaling the MTA estimates will cost $750 million, and is required to be completed by 2015. This signaling is designed to better monitor train movement, allowing operators to receive information about location of other trains with GPS-based technology, to ensure safety. Under the Senate's transportation bill, that 2015 deadline could be extended until 2018, giving the MTA more time to come up with funding, and allow the technology to become more fully developed, which would likely also bring down its cost.

"Our bipartisan bill provides the MTA with the needed flexibility to finally devote the resources to move forward with this second track; a project the agency itself described as its most important project for the Long Island Rail Road," Schumer said. "A second track would radically reduce commuting times, facilitate the flow of workers into and out of Long Island, spur the growth of MacArthur Airport and create a job creation corridor right down the center of the Island."

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