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Cuomo backs rail expansion

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UPDATED

The push for Metro-North service to the east Bronx just picked up an important passenger.

Governor Cuomo, his State of the State speech Wednesday, Jan. 8 committed his office to bringing four much anticipated new Metro-North stations to the borough.

The proposed stations are part of an MTA plan to expand Metro-North service into Penn Station.

“We will open a new spur for the Metro-North Railroad to provide more resiliency and direct access to Penn Station,” the governor said, “which will also at the same time build four new stations to bring transit options to the Bronx.”

The news was cheered by local east Bronx electeds, business and civic leaders looking to see stations built at Co-op City, Morris Park, Parkchester, and Hunts Point.

Early interest in the proposal for new stations came at a “Transporta­tion Summit” held by Congressman Joseph Crowley with constituents in Co-op City in May 2006, and he has been a consistent advocate of the plan with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said a spokesman. His office will now advocate for a firm timetable from the MTA, he said.

Crowley was gratified by the development:

“I am thrilled Governor Cuomo has included the Penn Station Access project as part of his agenda for 2014,” he said. “I have long championed the plan to bring Metro–North service to the east Bronx because improved access to transit is vital to the welfare of our communities. Not only does the project promise improved resiliency against natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy, but the expansion of the region’s connectivity to Manhattan will further advance economic growth in the area.”

Interest in building new Metro-North stations for those communities again surfaced publicly in November 2011 after a meeting in Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.’s office with MTA officials, community leaders, and elected officials.

Diaz said he was “thrilled” over the governor’s push for the stations.

“Governor Cuomo understands that new Metro-North options in Co-op City, Parkchester, Morris Park and Hunts Point will not only make our region’s transportation system stronger, it will also open up our borough and its residents to new economic opportunit­ies,” said Diaz. “The East Bronx Metro North Expansion proposal is a transformative plan, and I commend Governor Cuomo for moving this plan forward as part of his own agenda. On behalf of the 1.4 million people of my borough, we thank Governor Cuomo for his support of this much needed transportation plan.”

Diaz and Senator Jeff Klein both pushed for an analysis of the proposed new stations, which the MTA could open by 2019. The economic “white paper” showed that the new stations would create 5,400 new jobs, increase home values by over $140,000, and increase business activity in the Bronx by more than $1 billion.

“Expanding Metro North stations into the east Bronx would open up a fast, easy and direct link to Manhattan and would continue to build towards a very bright future for our borough,” said Klein. “I commend Governor Cuomo for recognizing this and for outlining his support for the expansion in his State of the State. As my joint report with Borough President Diaz outlines, the benefits to local homeowners, businesses and the economy are clear. That’s why I have long made approving plans for this expansion a top priority.”

Councilman Jimmy Vacca also applauded Cuomo.

“No resident should have to suffer through a two-hour commute just to get to work in Manhattan,” said Vacca, chair of the council’s transportation committee. “These new Metro-North stations are a great first step to alleviating the transportation issues in the Bronx, and I want to thank the Governor for allocating the funds to construct them. For the first time, I see more than light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Bronx Chamber of Commerce also lauded the news.

“The Bronx Chamber of Commerce is thrilled that NYS Governor Cuomo affirmed his office’s commitment to bringing four new Metro North stations to the Bronx in his ‘State of the State’ Address,” said Lenny Caro, CEO of the Chamber.

Community Board 10 chairman John Marano said: “We are very happy that the Governor is supporting New York City, and even more importantly, The Bronx.”

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at procchio@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3393
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