By Patrick Donachie
The state is giving the Long Island Rail Road $64.9 million to build a new platform and tracks at the Jamaica Station—an attempt to update the hub for the growing number of commuters who pass through it.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the cash injection Sept. 24. The improvements will offer “better, faster and more reliable train service” for commuter train passengers, he said.
“Time and time again, transportation investment has a ripple effect of progress and economic growth on the surrounding community,” he said.
The Jamaica Station improvements will make it easier to re-route trains and also to take them in or out of service between Jamaica and Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn.
The new platform will include wi-fi, USB charging stations for phones, and heated waiting areas.
After work is completed, shuttle trains will depart every 7.5 minutes between Atlantic Terminal and Jamaica during peak hours—and every 15 minutes during off-peak hours, according to the state. The work will reduce time commuters spend waiting, according to the head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs the LIRR.
“More tracks and platforms mean fewer delays. This award for Phase I of the project, which is funded by the Capital Plan, is great news,” said Thomas Prendergast, the chairman and CEO of the MTA.
The revenue comes as part of a massive, $442-million investment into Jamaica Station in order to modernize the tracks for the 200,000 commuters who use them every weekday. The passengers include people commuting to and from Manhattan for work, as well as travelers heading to the city via the Air Train from John F. Kennedy International Airport, which stops in Jamaica.
The refurbishing work will help improve track configurations, which have remained mostly the same since the station was first built in 1913. The total funding for the state’s investment is coming from a combination of the MTA’s 2010–2014 capital plan and the 2015–2019 capital plan.
On Tuesday, Cuomo also announced the plans to transform the James A. Farley Post Office on 8th Avenue in Manhattan into a home for LIRR and Amtrak trains currently utilizing Penn Station. The latter station will be completely renovated with higher and brighter corridors, as well as a concourse that will connect the to the new Moynihan Train Hall. According to Gov. Cuomo, the state aims for the new train hall to be ready for use by 2020. The new train hall will span 250,000 square feet, 50 percent larger than Penn Station’s current size. Additionally, the subway stations enclosed in Penn Station, including the A,C,E and 1,2,3 lines, will be entirely renovated. Cuomo said the total cost of the project will be $1.6 billion.
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona