NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a huge number: $32 billion. But that’s what the Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans to spend over five years to maintain and expand the system.

Five former heads of the MTA came together Tuesday to say it will be money well spent, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported.

“If it doesn’t happen, we’re going to go back to where we were in the ’80s, with trains falling apart, bridges falling apart, just the system collapsing. We came to a near collapse in the ’80s,” said Lee Sander, who led the agency from 2007-09. “And what will also occur is that we won’t have relief for the crowding on the Lexington Avenue subway if we don’t continue with Second Avenue.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who controls the MTA board, has called the $32 billion number bloated, but said he’s confident the state will satisfy the agency’s needs.

Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign, a transit watchdog group, said that since 1982 the MTA has spent $105 billion on improvements, such as “thousands of new subway cars and hundreds of stations rehabbed and MetroCard discounts and countdown clocks to provide real information.”

He added: “We must continue investing” in the system.

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