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Voters to decide fate of funds for East Side Access

Voters will be asked to approve or reject a multibillion-dollar bond act on the November election ballot that would apportion funds to link the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Station and upgrade other city public transportation.

The Transportation Infrastructure Bond Act of 200 would allocate $3.8 billion, which would be shared by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the New York City Transit Authority. The city Transit Authority, in particular, would receive about $1.6 billion to help finance additional subway and bus service as well as other transit projects.

Most significantly, the funds would help underwrite the design and planning of an East Side rail link, a proposal that would establish a LIRR spur to Grand Central Station. Having cursorily reviewed the bond proposal, however, a spokesman for the Queens borough president expressed general reservations about it.

"We're still taking a look at this," said Dan Andrews, Shulman's spokesman. "But based on what we're seeing, we're not very enthusiastic about it."

Over the next five years, funds from the act would permit the city to buy 1,100 new subway cars, 1,200 new buses and renovate 64 subway stations, including the LIRR's Jamaica Station, which is slated for renovation as part of the new AirTrain service to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

In addition, the funds would help finance roadway rehabilitation projects - for example, improving the lighting and drainage of the Grand Central Parkway.

A portion of the $3.8 million grant money would be used for a $34.2 billion transportation proposal supported by Gov. George E. Pataki, state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-Saratoga Springs) and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), a proposal that among other things would extend LIRR service into Grand Central Station on the East Side.

Last year, the federal government approved a $43.8 million grant to subsidize a 5,500-foot tunnel that would connect the Sunnyside Yards to a proposed Long Island Rail Road terminal on the western end of Grand Central Station.

Reach reporter Chris Fuchs by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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