Urging LIRR to reopen Elmhurst station

Lawmakers are urging the Long Island Rail Road to reopen a long-shuttered station in Elmhurst to accommodate the area’s burgeoning population.

And in a departure from the usual resistance to costly projects, LIRR officials said they are seriously considering the idea.

“This station needs to be restored,” Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens, Bronx) said at a news conference Thursday.

It “will improve the property values” of nearby homes, said Crowley, who has been spearheading the push. “It will improve the living standards of the people of this community.”

A town hall meeting on the issue is slated for 6 p.m. on April 11 at St. James Church. LIRR officials are expected to attend.

Riders catching an LIRR train from Elmhurst would arrive in Manhattan within 15 minutes, officials said. The subways — which are crowded during rush hours — usually take 35 to 40 minutes.

“Elmhurst deserves this rail road station,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights). “People have asked me if we can reopen this.”

The Elmhurst stop was closed in 1985 due to low ridership, an LIRR official said. But Port Washington line trains still zoom through the station on the way to Manhattan.

“Elmhurst is for the first time in over 20 years a feasible location for us,” said LIRR President Helena Williams, who also attended Thursday’s news conference. “This is a growing community and we want to make sure we’re being responsive.”

Reopening the grimy station would cost the agency a minimum of $20 million, she said. The price tag would rise to $30 million if elevators are installed.

It would also cost riders significantly more than a $2.25 subway fare or a $104 monthly MetroCard. LIRR tickets go for $7.25 during peak hours or $5 during off-peak times, Williams said. Monthly passes are $163.

Rosemarie Daraio, president of the civic group Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together, said she doesn’t believe the price would dissuade potential riders.

“By the time the buses and trains get to our area, they’re packed,” Daraio said. “You may have people that would prefer to pay a little extra for the convenience of taking the railroad.”

Robert Valdes-Clausell, director of the Newtown Civic Association, said his group asked the LIRR to extend the station’s platform to Queens Blvd. — which is only a few blocks from the old stop.

“It’s a fantastic idea,” he said of reopening the station.

by Claire Trapasso, New York Daily News


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