ALBANY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo threw his support behind a controversial plan to link Metro-North Railroad to Penn Station in his State of the State speech yesterday.

Cuomo is pushing the Penn Station Access plan, which would connect Metro-North trains to Penn Station using existing Amtrak infrastructure.

The plan would also construct four new rail stations in the Bronx, bypassing the Mott Haven Junction and the Harlem River Lift Bridge. If a natural disaster disabled those two points, commuters could travel in and out of Manhattan via the new route. During Superstorm Sandy, the Harlem River Lift Bridge was almost destroyed by fire.

The project has faced resistance on Long Island, including from eight state senators who have said they would not support the plan if it hurts the Long Island Rail Road. Critics say they fear the plan will further crowd the LIRR's main terminal and require the railroad to reduce service there.

According to officials from the governor's office, Metro-North's connection to Penn would coincide with the LIRR linking to Metro-North's Grand Central in 2019 through the MTA's ongoing East Side Access project. They say there will be more slots for Long Island, not less.