NY officials tired of waiting for federal infrastructure help, announce record $5.6B transformation of LIRR

NEW YORK — A record amount of money is being sunk into plans to transform the Long Island Rail Road system and strengthen the area's transit infrastructure, officials announced Wednesday.

The $5.6 billion will go toward system-wide reconstruction of tracks, switches, signals and power substations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. Plans for the revamp have been stalled for more than half a century.

"It took 70 years for us to do it," Cuomo said. "And we're now finally doing it. The money is in place. The approvals are in hand. We're underway with the construction. This is going to be one of the largest infrastructure projects in the United States of America."

Cuomo called the usage of the railroad system without investment unsustainable. Commuters have been hit with delays and packed trains on a daily basis because of this.

"That lack of vision and that lack of progress, that lack of development has negative consequences," Cuomo said. "Long Island continued to grow. We did not keep pace with it, with continued advancements with the Long Island Railroad. And it got more and more crowded, more and more cumbersome."

The money going toward the LIRR is part of a massive $100 billion infrastructure program. A keystone of the changes is a new Hudson Tunnel between New York and New Jersey and a rehabilitation of the existing tubes.

"We've been talking about it for years. It's not happened," Cuomo said. "And our position in New York is we're not going to wait any longer. We're not going to wait for the federal government to say, 'We're starting an infrastructure program.' We're going to do it ourselves."