"U.S.Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said final approval had been granted to allow $2.6 billion in federal funds to be spent on construction of the Long Island Rail Road link, which will give commuters on the railroad a direct ride to the east side of Manhattan. Speaking at a news conference in the main hall of Grand Central, she said it was the most money the federal government had ever committed to a mass transit project.
She said her department had also approved $693 million for the new subway on Second Avenue. In both cases, the federal money is only a portion of the total costs.
Work in Queens on the Long Island Rail Road project has already begun, and the Second Avenue work is to begin next year. Both projects are to be finished in 2013, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said."
"Currently, the only Manhattan stop for the Long Island Rail Road is at Pennsylvania Station, on the West Side, though the railroad estimates that about half the 106,000 riders who arrive at Penn Station each morning are actually headed to the East Side. The new terminal would cut those riders' daily commute by a total of about 40 minutes, officials said."
"Gaining federal funding of this magnitude is a lengthy process, often accompanied at incremental stages by announcements by eager public officials. But in the case of the Long Island rail project, yesterday's event, at which Ms. Peters and Gov. George E. Pataki signed a ceremonial letter of agreement, was the final approval."
"Peter S. Kalikow, the chairman of the transportation authority, called it "an event that started in 1968," a reference to the early days of planning for the Long Island Rail Road connection."