Local officials gathered for a press conference on Friday, March 3, at Brookhaven Town Hall to call for the Metropolitan Transit Authority to replace the Sheep Pasture Road Bridge in Port Jefferson with a span that can adequately handle increased motor vehicle traffic on the top roadway.
The new bridge construction would also allow for future third rail electrification expansion below on the LIRR right-of-way and reconfiguring the roadway above to reduce the severe traffic angle.
‘My constituents are calling for a more consistent and substantial commitment to local rail service.’
— Jonathan Kornreich
Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro (R), Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook) and New York State Assemblyman Ed Flood (R-Port Jefferson) attended the press event.
The railroad bridge, constructed in 1906, is the responsibility of the MTA, while the town is tasked with maintaining the vehicle roadbed.
The town has applied for a $15.8 million grant to repair the roadway structure through the BridgeNY Program. The LIRR is also interested in developing a second track along the existing railroad, according to town officials.
“At 117 years old, the Sheep Pasture Road Bridge needs to be replaced with a new one that can handle the vehicle traffic load of today, not 1906 when it was built,” Romaine said. “This is the type of project that the MTA should be spending money on.”
Losquadro decried the lack of public investment from the MTA in the local area. “Long Island, specifically Brookhaven Town, has been repeatedly shortchanged by the MTA when it comes to capital infrastructure investment,” he said. “It is imperative that the MTA expend the necessary funds required to replace the Sheep Pasture Road Bridge.”
Kornreich expressed similar sentiments. He stated that MTA should go further than maintaining existing infrastructure, advising the agency to explore electrification of the Port Jefferson Branch line.
“Unfortunately, for many people in my community, it feels like the MTA is taking us for a ride,” he said. “We pay an increasing share of the burden and don’t see it coming back in terms of improvements in service and infrastructure.”
The councilmember added, “Public transportation is incredibly important, and although we are hopeful we’ll receive this major grant from New York state, my constituents are calling for a more consistent and substantial commitment to local rail service. We want the MTA not just to repair and maintain structures like the Sheep Pasture Road Bridge but to move forward on electrification and improve schedules on the Port Jefferson line.”