NEW YORK (WPIX)—A day after sending a letter to MTA Headquarters and Chairman Jay Walder, members of the United States House of Representatives from Long Island are responding to questions from PIX 11 News Reporter Greg Mocker.
The letter from five U.S. Representatives cited safety concerns and a signal failure recently at a rail road crossing in Bayport. They asked MTA not to lay off more than two dozen signalmen. Dozens of Long Island Rail Road Conductors and LIRR Engineers are also facing furloughs.
Mocker questioned the letter's lack of designated funding source or demand that the MTA re-evaluate the more than $1 billion it received in federal stimulus money. U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D) says the money was meant to cover projects and create jobs. Rep. Israel admits, in hindsight, "...(the federal government) should have done it directly. We wanted to give states the flexibility under the premise they know better. The Long Island Rail Road has disproved that premise."
MTA tells Mocker the Federal funds have already been allocated. A Press Secretary for the Chairman did not say if the letter had been received or how they plan to respond.
Reports show about 2 weeks ago, the gate at a crossing on the Montauk Branch did not drop when the train approached. The Brotherhood of Signalmen showed Mocker the equipment and some of it dates back more than 50 years. Signal failures do occur in the system. Workers say fewer crews will mean less time for maintenance. MTA says the furloughs will not impact safety.
Mocker will follow up with the Congressional Representation regarding their next step and any response to the letter. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org