NEW YORK (WPIX)—Five members of Congress are worried about safety on the Long Island Rail Road. The U.S. Representatives from Long Island wrote a letter to Jay Walder at MTA Headquarters.
"As a matter of public safety," they write, "We ask that the MTA does not lay off or furlough these essential LIRR Signalmen."
Twenty-five signalmen are set to be laid off. They are the workers who repair and maintain warning lights and systems at gates and crossings. PIX 11 News Reporter Greg Mocker came across the letter as he was inquiring about a recent signal failure. In the letter, the U.S.Representatives cite an "Activation Failure or Clear Failure" on the Montauk Line in Bayport and worries of "overall systemic deterioration."
This is not the first letter from Representatives. One arrived on behalf of conductors. Sixty-two of them have also been notified they will be laid off in September.
Tonight the MTA emailed Mocker this response: "With funding available for only the first two years of the MTA Capital Plan, we've had to prioritize critical projects and modify schedules, leading to the furlough of some of our employees. If the balance of the program is funded, we will be able to bring these employees back in the future. While letting them go will be painful, safety remains our top priority and is in no way compromised by the furlough of these employees."
The Deputy Director for Media Relations tells Mocker they'll look into the signal failure. Mocker also asked how many happen each year.
The letter from the members of Congress does not mention any additional federal funds or grants. Nor does it request the MTA use funds it has already been allocated to cover these costs.
Mocker will be working this story on Tuesday from Long Island.
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