MTA files motions to have Garden City placed in court of contempt after continual refusal to issue permits for Denton Avenue bridge

MTA files motions to have Garden City placed in court of contempt after continual refusal to issue permits for Denton Avenue bridge
Photo of the existing Denton Avenue Bridge. (Photo courtesy of The LIRR Expansion Project Team)

The Village of Garden City is continuing to refuse to issue work permits necessary for the Denton Avenue bridge construction, part of the LIRR Expansion Project, MTA officials said. 

Last Wednesday the New York State Appellate Division ruled in favor of the MTA and LIRR after Garden City sought to appeal a Nov. 30 ruling from Judge Helen Voutsinas that granted the MTA the right to receive delayed permits needed since 2019.

MTA officials said that the agency on Monday filed motions asking the court to hold Garden City in contempt of court after the village disobeyed the order.

The MTA said it was seeking a daily fine of at least $50,000 until the village complies. 

As part of a $2.6 billion Long Island Rail Road project, the Denton Avenue Bridge is to be removed and replaced to accommodate a third track being added to the Main Line from Floral Park to Hicksville. The agency said in the initial lawsuit that it is critical to the project because widening the bridge would allow for the extra train track. 

Without the permits, the agency cannot complete any street closures or road excavations in order to rework critical utilities, including water and sewer mains. 

The LIRR Expansion Project is contractually mandated to be finished in 2022, and delays would increase costs. The agency is trying to complete bridge work in four months, as opposed to six, to meet the end of April 2022 deadline that keeps the entire project on schedule. 

The MTA said that the village is deliberately holding up the process and refusing to engage in any procedure that would move forward with the permits. 

According to court documents, Garden City Administrator Ralph Suozzi, when asked for the work permit after the appeal, said nothing more than that the “full application is under review.” Suozzi did not explain the village’s failure to conduct that review previously, even though the application has been before the village for over eight months, according to documents.

Village residents have complained about  the installation of steel utility poles reaching 93 feet above the ground, which the village contended the MTA was deceptive about. 

3rd Track Constructors (3TC), the developers for the project, said late design changes, which did not require village approval, affected four utility poles alongside the Merillon Avenue station, according to multiple reports. 

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin, a Garden City resident, released a statement last year about the actions of 3TC and the utility poles.

“The actions of the contractor certainly are at variance with the plan that was approved by the MTA Board and accepted by the community,” Clavin’s statement said. “Furthermore, the placement of the poles constitutes a violation of the public trust with an entire neighborhood by the MTA and its agents.” 

Without the permits, the MTA has considered alternatives that do not need to be approved in the same manner. This approach would entail the installation of a single third bay, parallel to the existing two, on MTA property. However, this would only lead to bigger problems, according to court documents. 

“This alternative would also result in irreparable harm in terms of the waste of public resources and increased disruption to all resulting from a prolonged construction schedule for completing the Third Track Project,” court documents said. 

Efforts to reach the village were unavailing. 

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