By Yvette Brown
Originally published in the Queens Tribune on January 14, 2016
The Long Island Rail Road is coming back to Elmhurst in the near future to help local residents get to and from the city in a more convenient way.
The reopening of the Elmhurst LIRR station, located on Broadway between Cornish and Whitney avenues, has been a goal of U.S. Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Queens), Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) since 2012. The station was shut down in 1985 because of the lack of usage.
The elected officials had written letters to the LIRR president, held walk-throughs and conducted a ridership survey to get the process moving along, and it appears to have worked.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority’s 2015-2019 Capital Program, which includes $40 million and reconstructing the Elmhurst LIRR station, was approved in November 2015.
The first letter to the NYS Department of Transportation Commissioner and MTA Capital Program Review Board Chair Joan McDonald was to discuss the reopening and speak about how vitally important it is to ensure greater transportation options in the area. Crowley and Dromm initially wanted to reopen the LIRR station in January of 2012, which they both explained would not only create improved access to Midtown Manhattan, but also help create jobs in Elmhurst as well. Both elected officials led a walking tour of the site with officials from MTA to further explore the possibility of reopening the station in March of 2012. This was followed by a town hall with residents about a month later to discuss transportation issues within the community.
According to the 2010 Census, “Elmhurst is home to one of the most diverse populations in the country, a trend that will likely continue in the near future as the community continues to grow.”
The ridership survey was then conducted in June of 2013. There were two components of the survey, a written version and the other was in person with sites located at nearby subway stations and areas surrounding Elmhurst Hospital Center. Both of them contained questions about what means of transportation residents use at the time, their travel frequency, their mode of choice and how they might avail themselves of LIRR service.
“This survey will be very important in helping us determine if there is sufficient demand in the Elmhurst community to consider reopening the station,” said Helena Williams, LIRR President, during the time of the ridership survey. “We urge residents to take a few minutes to fill it out. There are many issues that need to be carefully evaluated as part of this process but this is an important first step.”
Following the ridership survey came the funding. Crowley, Meng and Dromm released a statement following the release of the MTA’s Capital Program.
“Restoring LIRR service to Elmhurst will help a burgeoning neighborhood reach its full economic potential and become a destination for all New Yorkers,” said Crowley, Meng and Dromm. “We are thrilled to learn the MTA agrees that investing in this community is a win-win and that they have included critical funding to rebuild the station in their recently proposed capital budget. For years, Elmhurst residents have called for greater transportation options and we are now one step closer to turning this idea into a reality. We will continue to work with MTA officials to ensure this project remains a top priority and look forward to the day when Elmhurst will be the next stop for millions of New Yorkers.”
“We have budgeted $30.5 million for the design and construction of a new LIRR station at Elmhurst,” said Aaron Donovan, spokesperson for the MTA. “It would include two new 12-car-long platforms along with staircases, platform railings, platform shelters, ticket vending machines, as well as lighting, communication and security systems. The station will be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, with elevators. The funding includes environmental review, design and construction.”
“For Elmhurst, one of Queens’ most vibrant and fastest-growing communities, the reopening of its LIRR station will be transformational,” said Crowley. “I applaud the MTA Board for approving the project as part of its 2015-19 capital program and I thank both Congresswoman Grace Meng and Council Member Daniel Dromm for their roles in helping to make this a reality. After years of advocating for this new station, the MTA Board approval means we are yet one step closer to not only ensuring local residents have the transportation options they deserve but also making sure Elmhurst lives up to its full economic potential.”
Read more here.