By Philip Newman
State Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) has relented and approved a nearly $600 million Metropolitan Transportation Authority security plan after previously vetoing it because the MTA failed to provide adequate information on its anti-terrorrism efforts.
“The MTA held a briefing last week, apparently allaying any concerns the assemblywoman might have had,” said Tom Dunham, a spokesman for state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).
Skelos and Nolan, who was on vacation this week and could not be reached for comment, are members of the MTA Capital Program Review Board, a unit whose decisions must be unanimous. All members have veto power.
Although the three other members of the board approved the $591 million for the MTA’s anti-terrorist transit security measures, Nolan vetoed releasing the money.
“The MTA has proposed to amend their capital program, adding $591 in projects for increased security,” Nolan said after her veto in mid-June. “Neither a list of projects nor clear goals have been provided. This proposal will result in the deferral of a number of projects in the capital program. Until this week, there was no security director in place. Serious questions remain.”
But more recently, Nolan voted again, this time to release the money.
Nolan was quoted in press reports last week as saying she was “comfortable” and had been “properly briefed.” She added, however, that she still felt there had been “excessive secrecy” on the part of the MTA.
The projects that had been delayed involved construction on subway and commuter rail lines.
MTA Executive Director Katherine Lapp issued a statement saying, “We are grateful for the CPRB's approval of our critical capital security program.”
Nolan had, at the time of her veto, cited questions about the accountability of the MTA in its decision to raise subway and bus fares along with commuter rail fares and bridge and tunnel tolls as well as court orders to roll back the raises.
“In order to provide more time for the MTA to explain the need for its proposal and to consider the issues involved, it was necessary to temporarily reject this proposal,” Nolan said at the time of her veto.
“We want to insure that there is minimal impact on the goals of the capital program while protecting the New York metro area transit riders’ safety.”
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 136.