Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato’s recent letter to Department of Transportation Secretary Peter Buttigieg on behalf of restoring Long Island Rail Road service on the old Rockaway Beach branch was addressed to the wrong person.
She should have sent her letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo, MTA Chairman Pat Foye, and senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
None of them to date have expressed any serious interest in support of this $8 billion project. They all have other higher priorities.
You also need a transportation agency to serve as the project sponsor, which is necessary to apply for federal funding. Both the MTA and DOT have indicated no interest in sponsoring or pursuing funding from City Hall, Albany or Washington.
Either agency would have to ask the Federal Transit Administration for permission to enter the project into the New Starts/Core Capacity national discretionary grant program.
No one has offered millions to pay for the next step, which is a formal Environmental Review. Without this, the project will continue to be dead and buried.
The environmental review process would also have to follow the National Environmental Protection Act. This would be part of the formal process to become eligible for Federal Transit Administration funding.