Rep. Maloney, Queens Community Leaders Call on New York State to Fund Promised Sunnyside Rail Yards Station

Feb 11, 2019
Press Release
Electeds and Leaders Plan to Hold NYS to the Promise of Creating Transportation Hub in LIC

NEW YORK, NY - Today, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) joined with Queens community leaders in Long Island City to call on New York State to fund the promised, long anticipated LIRR station in Sunnyside Rail Yards. This stop, promised as  part of the East Side Access plan, would create a transportation hub that will incorporate all of the transportation systems that use the Sunnyside Rail Yards (LIRR, NJ Transit, Amtrak and soon, Metro North) to respond to the rapidly growing LIC community.

The Sunnyside Rail Yards station was promised as part of the original East Side Access proposal nearly two decades ago, yet has never been fully funded.  As a 2001 Final Environmental Impact Statement report of the project illustrates, planners understood that Long Island City was growing and in need of a more robust, intermodal transportation system. Nearly 20 years later, Long Island City is one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the country and East Side Access is still being built, yet there is no concrete plan for the Sunnyside Station, and the promise for a better transportation system in Long Island City has gone unanswered.

The State must create the necessary infrastructure to support the fastest growing neighborhood in the city. Funding this project would allow New York City to take advantage of the transportation systems that use the Sunnyside Rail Yards and create a real transportation hub that will have a tangible, lasting impact on the City. Now, more than ever, this promised must be fulfilled.

 

“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 Rep. 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.”

“During my tenure in the legislature I was able to direct several million dollars to a study on the need for a station in long island city and a true ‘east side access” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan. “Unfortunately, those promises, supported by objective studies, have not been fulfilled.  I am so grateful to Congresswoman Maloney for highlighting the need to restore this project to the list of things we must secure for our community here in Long Island City.  Fire protection, sewer and flooding improvements, additional schools, job training and of course more public transit are all essential to ensuring both NYC’s greatness as a world city and western queens as a livable community.”

“Western Queens continues to grow at a remarkable pace, but we risk stunting that growth if we’re not able to keep up when it comes to upgrading key area infrastructure,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “By building a LIRR station in Sunnyside, we will not only be fulfilling a long-overdue promise to the residents of Western Queens in need of more transit options, we will be making an absolutely critical investment that will help further diversify the borough’s economy.” 

 “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 & CEO of Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“Plans for the growth of LIC laid out 30 years ago are now being exceeded beyond anyone’s expectations, dreams or fears. This is now the fastest growing neighborhood in the United States, and this is before major projects currently in the works take shape.  We now have the opportunity not only to fulfill a 20 year promise to the people of Western Queens, but also to create a visionary intermodal station to knit together the entire region and make this the most sustainable urban center of the future.” Elizabeth Lusskin, President LIC Partnership and Executive Director of Long Island City Business Improvement District (LIC BID).

“The MTA has already allocated millions of our tax dollars for this station, so what are they waiting for? We need it now more than ever, and we demand that the MTA does its job and fulfills this long overdue promise," said Brent O'Leary, President Hunters Point Civic Association.

“Our neighborhoods in western queens have seem enormous population growth in the past years; development in the area continues and   exponential growth with it.   The time for a LIRR stop in the Sunnyside Rail Yard long promised in the East Side Access plan has come.  At the same time we must look to the future and accommodate all the rail lines served by the Sunnyside Rail Yard by creating a state of the art transportation hub.    The State must fund this crucial investment that will benefit tens of thousands of New Yorkers,” said Marie Torniali, Chair of Community Board 1.

“The promise of this station made decades ago along with the funding Congresswoman Maloney secured, helped fuel Long Island City becoming the fastest growing community in the country. But, more people in Long Island City without a significant increase in public transportation means we are increasing a deficit to our infrastructure. More people, less access is a negative. The State needs to back its promise to this community and make the statement 'transit rich' actually mean something,” said Sheila Lewandowski, Chair of the Transportation Committee for Community Board 2.

“Building and expanding transit access to Sunnyside Yards is vital for Queens, New York City and the greater region. Over the next 25 years, Queens has the potential to gain as many as 135,000 new jobs and fully developing projects like East Side Access, Penn Access and Gateway would help realize this potential while anchoring jobs in the most transit-accessible location in Queens,” said Tom Wright, President, Regional Plan Association.

“Long Island City and Sunnyside are rapidly developing job centers and residential communities, with tens of thousands of new residents - and Amazon employees- expected in the next few years. Developing this station will be a regional and economic boon, and a great additional station for commuters. We're asking that its development be funded by all users of the proposed station including the federal government, state and city, and Amazon. We need to grow our transit and commute options, and a Sunnyside Station will serve the entire region,” said Andrew Albert, Chair of the New York City Transit Riders Council.

 

Background:

  • In March 2001, the MTA completed its Final Environmental Impact Statement for the East Side Access project to bring the LIRR into Grand Central Terminal and promised the Long Island City community a station at the Sunnyside Rail Yards.

 

  • The proposed Sunnyside Station was not contemplated as a mere stop on the LIRR. According to the 2001 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), “[i]n addition to the new service to Grand Central Terminal, East Side Access would also create a new station in Sunnyside Queens.  Selected LIRR trains bound to and from Penn Station would stop at this new station located at Queens Boulevard.” The FEIS also expressly stated “[i]n the future, this station could also be used for Amtrak and/or NJ transit service.” 

 

  • Long Island City is the fastest growing neighborhood in the city and is in desperate need of better transportation alternatives.

 

  • 170,000 residents
  • 115,000 employees
  • 350 proposed or completed development projects
  • Nearly 20,000 new residential units have been completed since 2006, nearly half of which opened in the last 3 years alone.
  • Retail square footage is expected to nearly double by 2020. Commercial space will increase by about 50%.

 

  • 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

 

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