Congresswoman Grace Meng announced on Wednesday, June 9, that she has secured nearly $20 million in a key transportation and infrastructure bill to upgrade the Forest Hills Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station, create vehicle charging stations in Flushing and Bayside, and replace medians in Oakland Gardens that are in need of repair.
The funding was included in the INVEST in America Act, a transformative five-year, $547 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill. The measure is expected to be passed later this afternoon by the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee. It is then expected to soon be passed by the full House of Representatives.
Meng said she is thrilled to secure funding for these crucial initiatives in the INVEST in America Act, and is looking forward to the legislation being approved by the House in the coming weeks.
“Queens must not be forgotten about as we invest in our infrastructure,” Meng said. “Restoring and expanding our borough’s transportation system is critical to meeting the growing needs of Queens, and these projects would improve the safety of local residents while making it easier and more convenient to travel.”
According to Meng, the projects would also strengthen economic growth, save money and enhance quality-of-life for many constituents.
Under the project for the Forest Hills LIRR station, located at 71st Avenue and Austin Street, nearly $17 million ($16,910,000) would be used to address repair needs including the replacement of deteriorated platforms. The project would also provide those with disabilities full access to the station, making it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. These accessibility improvements include new elevators and an extension of the platform length to 12 cars, along with other station upgrades.
Funding for the vehicle charging stations in Flushing and Bayside includes $734,400 for a Level 2 Electric Charging Network in New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) municipal parking facilities. Specifically, the money would be used to install electric vehicle charging stations in three municipal parking lots:
- Flushing #2 parking field at 135-23 39th Ave. in Flushing
- Flushing #4 parking field at 134 Northern Blvd. in Flushing
- Bayside parking field at 214-32 41st Ave. in Bayside
The level 2 chargers provide about 7kW of power per hour. This would add about 25 miles of range to a typical sedan for each hour it is plugged in. Under the median restoration initiative in Oakland Gardens, $2,355,200 would be provided to restore the center medians on Union Turnpike from Hollis Court Boulevard to 226th Street to a state of good repair. The current medians are in disrepair and need to be reconstructed. The project will also make accessibility and geometric improvements where needed.
This spring, the T&I Committee provided the opportunity for members of Congress to submit highway or transit project requests for their districts in the surface transportation reauthorization bill. This process allowed congress members to work with local governments, transit agencies or state departments of transportation to identify and put forward high-impact local infrastructure projects.
In order to request funding, Meng and other members of Congress had to adhere to limited options. All projects needed to already be planned and budgeted for and by the city or state. Projects were also required to be submitted within a short timeframe, and the only qualified projects were those eligible under Title 23 of the U.S. Code which includes transportation planning, capital improvement projects and highway trust fund initiatives.
Essentially, the goal of the funding is to help give viable projects the money they need to get across the finish line.