Farmingville, NY – – On March 3, Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine, Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro, Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich and New York State and local officials held a press conference to call for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) 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 will also allow for future third rail electrification expansion below on the LIRR right-of-way and a reconfiguration of the roadway above to reduce the severe angle of traffic. Pictured left to right are Deputy Supervisor/Councilman Dan Panico; Supervisor Ed Romaine; Superintendent of Highways Dan Losquadro; Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich and New York State Assemblyman Ed Flood.
The railroad bridge, which was constructed in 1906, is the responsibility of the MTA while the maintenance of the vehicle roadbed is the responsibility of the Town of Brookhaven. The Town has applied for a $15.8 million grant to make the needed repairs to roadway structure through the BridgeNY Program. The LIRR is also interested in potentially developing a second track along the existing railroad in the future.
In a January 20, 2023 letter to the New York State Department of Transportation (Re: Sheep Pasture Road Bridge Replacement – Town of Brookhaven) Supervisor Romaine outlined the project and the financial commitment for the LIRR (50%), New York State (25%) and the Town (25%). It also stated that under New York State Railroad Law (Section 93), the LIRR must maintain and keep in repair the framework of the bridge (pictured) and its abutments while the Town of Brookhaven is responsible only for the upper vehicle roadway framework. Because of its age and deterioration, the Fire Department is concerned about driving safety equipment over the bridge. The Town of Brookhaven will also be responsible for the BridgeNY 5% match requirement
Supervisor Romaine said, “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. This is the type of project that the MTA should be spending money on. Instead, local businesses and municipalities, like the Town of Brookhaven, have been paying the MTA payroll tax since 2008, and we continue to support New York City while our infrastructure needs modernization.”
Town of Brookhaven Highway Superintendent Dan Losquadro said, “As the local elected official responsible for infrastructure, I am reminded every day of the importance of maintaining safe and reliable roads and bridges. Long Island, specifically Brookhaven Town, has been repeatedly shortchanged by the MTA when it comes to capital infrastructure investment. While the Governor may see Long Island local governments and taxpayers a 'blank check’ to save her faltering agency, it is imperative that the MTA expend the necessary funds required to replace the Sheep Pasture Road Bridge. This bridge has seen its weight restrictions consistently downgraded by her own NYSDOT due to its poor structural condition, to the point where emergency apparatus should not even cross it. Due to these restrictions, I have been in discussions with the MTA for the past two years and have officially applied for funding through the BridgeNY program even though Brookhaven is only responsible for maintaining the road surface. Brookhaven is doing our part, it’s time the Governor and the MTA do theirs.”
Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich said, "Unfortunately, for many people in my community it feels like the MTA is taking us for a ride. We pay an increasing share of the burden and don’t see it coming back in terms of improvements in service and infrastructure. 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."
New York State Senator Anthony Palumbo said, "The Sheep Pasture Road Bridge is another example of the MTA neglecting its transportation responsibilities on Long Island, while at the same time, requesting new and higher taxes be placed on already underserved and overburdened Long Island taxpayers, motorists and businesses. The MTA's failure to properly upkeep this span jeopardizes roadway safety and is becoming a real hazard for local residents. The MTA needs to fulfill their responsibilities and fix this bridge."
New York State Assemblyman Ed Flood said, “I want to thank Supervisor Romaine for holding this press conference and inviting us here today to discuss the Sheep Pasture Road Bridge. The condition of the bridge is completely unacceptable, and it remains unsafe for local residents and traffic, including first responders carrying heavy equipment. Given the massive state budget, the funding that goes toward other parts of the state and the responsibility of the MTA to uphold the infrastructure, the poor condition of this bridge should have been addressed a long time ago. Through the Bridge NY program, the town has applied for, grants are available to help with costs to complete the necessary repairs. Supervisor Romaine and I will continue pushing for funding until the bridge is repaired or replaced to give residents peace of mind when crossing.”
Port Jefferson Village Trustee Lauren Sheprow said, “I support and join Supervisor Romaine's efforts to have the MTA broaden and reinforce the Sheep Pasture Road Bridge. Like most Port Jefferson residents, I drive over the bridge on a daily basis and have seen its significant deterioration. This is also a necessary step in electrifying train service for a cleaner environment in the future.”