By Patrick Donachie
The Jamaica Transportation Center Station Plaza in downtown Jamaica will benefit from $7.65 million in state funding to improve the area, according to state Sen. James Sanders (D-Rochdale Village).
Sanders made the announcement at a news conference at the Sutphin Boulevard/Archer Avenue train station Tuesday. The money was allocated in the 2016 state budget as a part of a multi-year transportation plan.
“I am proud to have helped facilitate this funding, which will make the busy downtown Jamaica area safer and more accessible to both pedestrians and motorists,” Sanders said. “Hopefully, we will see job growth and an increase in the amount of people enjoying the many goods and services available in this community.”
According to Sanders, Archer Avenue could potentially be widened for new bus lanes and bus stop areas. The money would pay for a new traffic signal at Archer Avenue and 146th Street in order to safely accommodate pedestrians trying to reach the Jamaica Long Island Rail Road station. The money would also go to widening sidewalks for commuters and the construction of two new stairwells that would act as additional subway entrances.
Sanders said better transportation options could serve as an additional economic stimulus in the area, showing businesses that the area is a prime location for new opportunities. Developers for new hotels in the area hope to capitalize on the proximity of the Air Train that travels from downtown Jamaica to John F. Kennedy International Airport. Sanders acknowledged that staying in Jamaica would be “a cheaper way of visiting New York City” and said it was important to make sure the transit resources in the area matched increased traffic.
“Right now this area has a gritty feeling,” Sander said. “It almost looks like an urban backdrop that would be used in the movies. We want it to be more upscale.”
He said there was no time line as of yet for when the funds will be put to use, though he said he had been in contact with the state Department of Transportation.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona