THE BRONX - The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is working on preliminary plans to expand Metro-North service to the east side of The Bronx.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., MTA officials and community leaders met yesterday to discuss the plan, which they say could become a reality by 2016.

The proposal could give residents more access to the railroad, with stations possibly coming to Co-op City, Parkchester, Hunts Point and Morris Park.

The Bronx Borough President's Office says since the tracks are already in place, they would only have to build stations. Some local politicians say it's a win-win situation.

"They don't need any variances and they project they don't need to interrupt any existing businesses," says Democratic state Assemblyman Marcos Crespo.

Community leaders say the only drawback is that the preliminary plans don't call for any new parking garages or lots, which may add more traffic to the area.

MTA board member and former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer estimates that the project will cost about $300 million, with a third of the sum coming from Connecticut and the rest from New York.