Officials push Amtrak to stay on track with East River Tunnel repairs

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ROCKVILLE CENTRE -

State lawmakers are calling for a hearing to get answers on why repairs to the Superstorm Sandy-damaged East River Tunnels are being delayed seven years.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky says the tunnels are in poor shape after corrosive salt water flooded two of them nearly five years ago.

Amtrak was hoping to start repairs in 2019, but those repairs will now be delayed until 2025.

The East River Tunnels are critical to transporting Long Island Rail Road commuters into Manhattan.

Stephanie Vega, of Oceanside, commutes into the city every day and says she's concerned after hearing about the repair delay.

"It's just an ongoing issue. It affects us commuters trying to get work or wherever you need to be," she says. "I just think it's something that, by now, they should have a better grasp on."

After experiencing the so-called "Summer of Hell," which wasn't as bad as expected, some commuters say they just don't want to experience any more delays. 

"Mornings, alone, are like two hours commuting and you never know if there's some sort of delay," says Elita Ernsteen, of Rockville Centre.

Kaminsky says he will continue to push Amtrak to stay on track.

"Long Island can't function unless there's a reliable, dependable and dignified way to get back and forth to the city or downtown Brooklyn," he says. "It's not just an inconvenience. It's critical."

An Amtrak spokesperson told News 12 that they aren't "in a position to comment on political issues on the weekend" and won't comment until Monday.

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