By Jonathan Sperling
Community leaders rallied in Long Island City on Monday to ask that that state legislators fund a previously promised train station in Sunnyside Yards.
The Sunnyside Rail Yards station, which was originally planned as part of the MTA’s East Side Access project in 2001, would allow LIC’s 170,000 residents better access to the Long Island Rail Road by way of a station located on Queens Boulevard.
The MTA’s current 2015-2019 Capital Plan includes $75.6 million dollars for the station, most of which was to be spent this year.
“Nearly 20 years have passed since Long Island City was promised a new station in Sunnyside Yards and it is way past time for the state to deliver,” said Carolyn B. Maloney. “We need a transportation system that recognizes and accommodates the growing number of riders on our railways and one that recognizes our city’s changing commuting patterns. The current MTA Capital Plan has more than $75 million for the station. We need this station. We were promised this station. And we are calling on the MTA to put to use the resources needed to build it.”
The Sunnyside Rail Yards station was first proposed 2001 Final Environmental Impact Statement, released as part of the original East Side Access proposal. East Side Access would extend the LIRR from Queens to a new station underneath Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan.
NJ Transit and Amtrak trains would also be able to utilize the Sunnyside Rail Yards station some time in the future, according to Maloney. Currently, the closest LIRR stations to Sunnyside Yards is further west in LIC, and on Hunterspoint Avenue. The E, M, R and No. 7 subway lines also service the area.
Local leaders stressed that now was a better time than ever for the state to fund the station, as Long Island City’s population continues to boom, with no sign of slowing down. Retail square footage in the area is expected to nearly double by the end of next year, according to Maloney.
“Western Queens has seen a population boom, not only in terms of new residents, but business have discovered that our community is the perfect place for them to grow and thrive. This growth has put a strain on our local infrastructure. It is time for the state to keep its promise to bring a much needed LIRR stop to Sunnyside Yards and use the rail yards to create a world class transportation hub in the fastest growing community in America,” said Thomas J. Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.