Cuomo Supplies $1 Billion for Transit Upgrades

Adds to program that includes $17 million for Highlands stations

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Supplying the Metropolitan Transportation Authority with $1 billion in emergency funds for infrastructure repairs, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on June 30 gave Empire State residents an incentive to take the train more often — soon.

Although the governor focused attention on the ailing New York City subway system, the extra state cash infuses an overall MTA capital improvements plan that includes $17.5 million for Metro-North train stations in Beacon, Cold Spring, and Garrison, and elsewhere on the upper Hudson Line. The capital improvements plan allocates about $2.3 billion to Metro-North in total, according to an MTA breakdown of intended spending across the agency.

How much of the governor’s extra $1 billion Metro-North might receive was not immediately clear. Cuomo asked MTA to review its capital improvement plan within 60 days to determine new equipment and maintenance priorities.

To expedite the ensuing infrastructure upgrades, Cuomo declared a public transit “disaster emergency” in New York City and Putnam, Dutchess, and five other counties in the region and suspended requirements in three major state laws “if compliance would prevent, hinder or delay action.” The provisions involve leasing, permit issuance, procurement agreements, and drafting of contracts as well as the environmental impact review process.

MTA oversees both the massive New York City subway and bus system and regional commuter train networks stretching from the border with Pennsylvania into Connecticut, and serves more than 9 million commuters and other riders per day. “Many have no other means of affordable and safe transportation” available, Cuomo, a two-term Democrat, said in New York City in announcing his action.

Yet, he added,  the “increasingly constant and continuing failures of the tracks, signals, switches and other transportation infrastructure throughout the system … have had a vast and deleterious impact on the health, safety, and livelihood of commuters, tourists” and others, as well as business and the entire state economy.

Approved by the state government in 2016, MTA’s capital plan includes $17.5 million for station upgrades in Poughkeepsie, New Hamburg, and Cortlandt as well as Cold Spring, Beacon, and Garrison. According to the MTA, construction should begin in 2018 and end in 2021.

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