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New York's infrastructure is crumbling, and its politicians are blaming each other

Amid a series of relentless mass transit delays, finger-pointing has become the latest solution


Alessandra Maldonado
June 29, 2017 8:53PM (UTC)

New York City's transportation infrastructure seems to be collapsing. As train derailments and two-hour delays become more and more common, accountability from those in charge is scarce.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Thursday morning, just days after a busy subway train derailed in the Harlem section of the city. Cuomo called the current state of mass transit "wholly unacceptable," continuing to say "it will no longer be a tortured exercise to do business with the MTA."

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The MTA, meanwhile, is spreading the blame, pointing the finger at Amtrak for part of the city's commuting woes. Long Island Railroad riders from the suburbs experienced delays up to 60 minutes on Thursday after a "track condition" they blamed on Amtrak infrastructure. The LIRR's Twitter account was quick to absolve themselves of responsibility, making sure to point out that Amtrak owned the tunnels where the delays were occurring in 15 different tweets.

In May, Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — who killed in 2010 a plan to construct new tunnels from New Jersey to supplement the crumbling North River Tunnels under the Hudson River  — blamed Amtrak for "decades of underinvestment." In a letter, they blamed Amtrak for "produc[ing] the continuing string of infrastructure failures at Penn Station," the central New York transportation hub shared by Amtrak and commuter trains from New Jersey and Long Island. The letter was released after the national rail operator announced that multiple tracks at Penn Station — the busiest train station in the United States — would be taken out of service for weeks at a time for overdue infrastructure repairs.

Notably absent from conversations about the state of mass transit is New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. The city's mayor has insisted he has no control over the MTA as it falls apart, and it's worked pretty well, as Cuomo has bore the brunt of backlash from New Yorkers. But de Blasio has been pushing for a $2.5 billion trolley line — the BQX — which would not alleviate any problems for any New Yorkers or commuters affected by any of the problems above.

On Thursday, Cuomo had another major transportation announcement. The $4 billion replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge, located roughly two dozen miles north of the city, would be named after his father, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo.

 


Alessandra Maldonado

Alessandra Maldonado is an editorial intern at Salon. You can find her on Twitter at @alessamberr

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