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Reps Call on MTA to Accelerate LIRR Project

The project is a 'critical' component of the Route 110 Hub plan, officials say.

Several legislators are asking the MTA to accelerate a proposed LIRR double track project, a plan they say will create jobs, help businesses and service commuters right in the Farmingdale area.

"It’s also a critical component of the proposed project, which would help create additional jobs and economic development for Long Island," said New York State Sen. Charles Fuschillo, R- Merrick, who is 
chairman of the Senate’s Transportation Committee. "The MTA should do whatever it can to accelerate this project and make it a reality.

, when the owners of Airport Plaza were prohibited from leasing the former Republic Airport station that sits across from their 91-acre parcel because of future plans to re-open it. In 2010, officials announced plans to open a station just east of Route 110 on Conklin Avenue but also to build a second track on the LIRR's main line between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma that would improve service, increase on-time performance, and enabe faster recovery following service disruptions. 

As part of a larger, joint plan between the towns of Babylon and Huntington, the transit hub would also include new residential and commercial developments near the new Republic Station as well as a bus rapid transit system across Route 110.

However, the plan hit a roadblock later in 2010, when the MTA announced that the plans for the new station—and second track—would have to wait at least another five years as part of the LIRR's next capital plan, scheduled to begin in 2015.

The LIRR had originally set aside $3.5 million in its proposed capital plan for 2010-2014 to study and design the project but the agency was forced to backtrack in order to satisfy a federal order to upgrade its collision avoidance system—at a cost of $350 million—by 2015. 

Republic Station closed in 1986 due to declining ridership, partly as a result of the nearby Fairchild Engine & Manufacturing Company ceasing operations in 1986. The station had been used primarily by Fairchild and Republic Airport employees.

According to his office, Fuschillo petitioned MTA Chairman Joe Lhota about this project at a Transportation Budget Hearing last week, asking that "the MTA do everything possible to expedite the project." Fuschillo is joined by Sen. Owen Johnson, R-West Babylon, and Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) in support of this initiative.

"The impact of a second track between Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale will
provide an important economic boost for my district. While my constituents help fund the MTA, this initiative provides an important return on their investment,” said Zeldin.

The main line between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma, which spans 17.9 miles, currently has 5.3 miles of double track. According to the MTA, the Ronkonkoma line is one of the LIRR’s most crowded lines, with the highest number of customers per train on peak trains, reverse-peak trains and weekends.

Transit-oriented development is a key component of the and one reason a developer was interested in in the village. Michael DeLuise, a member of the Melville Chamber of Commerce has been advocating the project to officials for the past year.

"We just can't afford to wait another five years," he said. 

Do you support a new station and second track? Tell us why in the comments.

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