Written by Peter Cavallaro Friday, 18 September 2009 00:00
At the invitation of New York State (NYS) Senator Craig Johnson, I testified at a Sept. 3 hearing held at the Nassau County Legislative chamber in Mineola.
The hearing, on the confirmation that Jay Walder – Governor David Paterson’s nominee to be the new MTA chairman – was actually a joint hearing of the NYS Senate’s Standing Committees on Finance, Authorities and Commissions and Corporations. Also present were Long Island Senators Charles Fuschillo, Carl Marcellino, Brian Foley and Owen Johnson.
As the only local elected official invited to address the panel, I focused my comments on the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) and Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) 18-year failure to address the need to replace or structurally repair the Ellison Avenue bridge in Westbury.
In my remarks, I outlined the history of the village’s attempts to have the MTA and LIRR take responsibility for the repair or replacement of the bridge. I emphasized the safety concerns regarding the current condition of the bridge, as well as the importance of the bridge to Nassau County as a major north/south roadway.
I also called on Walder, if confirmed in the coming weeks, to ensure that under his watch, there is overall equity in how MTA capital resources are distributed between the needs of New York City and those of suburban communities like Westbury. I expressed my concern, and the concern of many suburban residents, of New York City as being the main focus of the MTA’s capital plans. While acknowledging that New York City should get its fair share, I urged the MTA and Walder to recognize the legitimate concerns of suburban communities like Westbury and the Ellison Avenue bridge issue.
Both Senator Craig Johnson, who is the NYS Senate’s majority member on the MTA Capital Review Board, and Senator Fuschillo, the NYS Senate’s minority member on the MTA Capital Review Board, spoke out in favor of immediate repair or replacement of the bridge. Fuschillo, who grew up in Westbury, also commented on his familiarity with the bridge and offered his full support for its replacement. Johnson said that the repair of the Ellison Avenue bridge has been and will continue to be one of his most important priorities.
I extend my thanks to Johnson for his work in the past year on trying to get the MTA and LIRR to address this problem.