No new funding for Flushing LIRR stop

No new funding for Flushing LIRR stop
By Connor Adams Sheets

A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said Monday that Congress is not expected to award federal funding she requested for long-needed improvements to the Flushing Long Island Rail Road station this year.

There was some confusion over the status of the funding request when she toured downtown Flushing Friday to campaign with Democratic state attorney general Eric Schneiderman in a last-minute push for Queens votes.

During a visit to Flushing last year she had said she planned to ask that $25 million be designated in this year’s Senate transportation bill to modernize the dilapidated station, which is not handicapped-accessible and has steep, cement stairs that make getting up to the platforms precarious.

She made the request, but it did not make it into the final bill that will go before the Senate later this year, according to Gillibrand spokesman Glen Kaplin.

“It was not included and it’s something that we’re going to request next year,” Kaplin said. “This project is a priority for her, and it’s something we’re going to request in next year’s bill.”

The funding would have gone toward installing elevators and other upgrades, such as possible ramps, at the two elevated LIRR platforms at the Flushing stop.

The face-lift was expected to add to the proposed improvements to the No. 7 subway line terminus on Roosevelt Avenue and the recently implemented traffic pattern changes in the downtown core to create a new transportation paradigm in Flushing.

On Friday Gillibrand and Schneiderman walked with City Comptroller John Liu from the Queens Crossing Plaza along Main Street, where they visited the Chinese-owned Tai Pan Bakery and Hong Kong Supermarket, up 37th Avenue, where they stopped in at Joe’s Shanghai Restaurant, then down Union Street, where they stopped in at the Korean-owned Canaan Bakery.

Along the way they shook hands with voters and shoppers, drawing a gaggle of press and onlookers and creating quite a scene as they navigated Flushing’s already-jammed streets.

Gillibrand’s remarks focused in large part on her plans for the economy.

“This election is about making sure small businesses have access to the capital they need to create new jobs,” she said. “We want to create jobs, we want to make sure middle-class families are able to make ends meet and that small businesses have the capital they need to create jobs. Middle-class families and small businesses, that’s who we’re fighting for.”

She also addressed Chinese reporters’ repeated questions about the country’s relationship with their home country.

“We want to make sure our playing field is fair on issues like trade agreements, but our relationship is very strong,” she said. “The more we can work together, the better it is for both of us.”

The candidates and Liu further emphasized the need for people to turn out at the polls Tuesday and stated their commitment to the people of Flushing.

“On Nov. 2, make sure to go out and vote,” Schneiderman said. “We’ll see you here after the election, too.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4538.