For weeks, the newest plans for MTA capital projects, including $3 billion in funding for key improvements to subways, bridges, tunnels and commuter railroads, sat in wait.
Now, after plenty of typical Albany political posturing, those proposals are on track. State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan finally gave the last pieces of the capital plan the go-ahead on Tuesday night.
The move couldn’t have come at a better time. NYC residents have faced extensive subway delays, power and signal problems, a dangerous derailment, and a host of other issues in recent months. And this summer, as Amtrak makes extensive repairs at Penn Station, the MTA is depending on its strained subway system even more, making the need for improvements all the more apparent.
So, expanding and upgrading the system are essential. The MTA’s plans include $700 million to fund part of the important next phase of the Second Avenue Subway, which will extend the line into East Harlem but could ultimately cost $6 billion.
And the plan adds more funds for cashless electronic tolling at bridges and tunnels.
On top of that, the MTA’s amended plan creates a new span of track on the Long Island Rail Road that will help ease reverse train commutes for NYC residents who work in Nassau or Suffolk counties.
Together, the improvements will ripple through the region, boost the economy and create the opportunity for new and better-paying jobs in the city and beyond.
And all of it is part of the MTA’s larger $32.5 billion overall capital plan, which extends through 2019 and includes money for signals, subway cars and buses, along with repairs and improvements to bus depots, subway station accessibility, and more.
None of it, of course, will get done quickly enough. But it could be the start of a broader effort by state and MTA officials to think and act bigger, to recognize the extensive needs of our subways and commuter rails, and to start modernizing the public transportation system to meet the needs of its riders.