A key state review panel has vetoed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's proposed $32 billion capital program, although officials say the move was aimed only at buying more time to review the plan.
The five-member Capital Program Review Board on Thursday formally rejected the plan, which had been submitted about two weeks ago and aims to fund major infrastructure investments throughout the MTA, including at the Long Island Rail Road, from 2015 through 2019.
In a letter to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast, State Department of Transportation Department Commissioner Joan McDonald said she was vetoing the plan "without prejudice to any particular element of project" and that she looks forward to "continuing the dialogue" with the MTA about advancing the plan.
In a statement Saturday, McDonald confirmed that the board vetoed the plan "so that we had sufficient time to evaluate the capital plan proposal, the various proposals that may be part of the plan and may require legislative approval, and to do the proper due diligence."
An MTA spokesman said the veto was expected, as it gives the board more time to review the plan. Under state law, the board must respond to the plan within 90 days. But it often continues debating it well into the following year. The last MTA Capital Plan -- submitted to the board in September of 2009 -- was not approved until June 2010.
The proposal includes funding to complete the MTA's East Side Access project to link the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal by 2022 and to finish installing a second track between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma.
MTA officials say they have plans for securing about $17 billion of the needed $32 billion for the proposals and will look to other funding partners, including the federal and state governments, to help fill the gap.