New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced a $5.6 billion transformation of the Long Island Rail Road which he said would “usher in a new era of economic growth.”

All 100 LIRR capital projects are proceeding, he told the Melville, N.Y.-based Long Island Association civic group, including the Main Line third track, which last week received state review panel approval as part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s five-year, $32 billion capital program.

Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York on Jan. 18, 2017.
"Where you build transportation, people will follow," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Bloomberg News

"Where you build transportation, people will follow," said the governor.

The MTA, a state-run agency and one of the latest municipal issuers with $38 billion of debt, operates LIRR.

Emergency track and signal interlocking work by quasi-federal Amtrak around Penn Station, which serves LIRR riders, has inconvenienced Long Island commuters going to and from Manhattan. On Tuesday, signal issues at Jamaica station caused delays during the evening commute after a derailed equipment train shut down the Long Beach branch for about 10 hours.

Other projects include double track, Jamaica station reconstruction, 39 renovated Long Island Rail Road stations and grade-crossing eliminations.

The transformation, said Cuomo, is part of New York's $100 billion infrastructure program. Central to the plan is building a new Hudson Tunnel between New York and New Jersey – still mired in political squabbles -- and rehabilitating the existing tubes.

"If we lose the Gateway Tunnel, it will have dramatic effects for this state and again, for the entire Northeast," said Cuomo.

Under way is the development of the Penn-Farley Complex, featuring the new Moynihan Train Hall, a $1.6 billion, 255,000 square foot facility expected to open in 2020. The Penn-Farley Complex also includes the newly opened West End concourse, which enables LIRR commuters to board trains without entering Penn.

Additionally, the East Side access project, long delayed and now projected to open no earlier than 2022, will create the first direct LIRR service to Manhattan’s East Side and increase capacity to and from Manhattan.

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