Platform to be extended, elevators to be added at LIRR station in Forest Hills; largest project of the bunch
By Jessica Meditz
Just before Christmas, it was announced that over $21.3 million in federal funds were allocated for 15 critical projects across Queens.
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens), New York’s senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, secured the funds in the new 2023 government spending package that passed the House and Senate late last month, and has now been signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Meng obtained a total of $21,317,066 in federal money for the projects, all of which meet many urgent needs throughout Queens.
The largest portion of the funding will go toward upgrades for the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station in Forest Hills – approximately $7 million.
Improvements to the station will include the installation of new elevators and the extension the platform length to accommodate more train cars.
Today, the Forest Hills LIRR station accommodates only six of the 12 train cars, meaning that when a train stops at that station, only the first six cars are able to open their doors. The planned extension will be able to accommodate all 12 cars.
Additionally, the implementation of elevators will make the Forest Hills LIRR station fully accessible, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
“The MTA is fully committed to make the entire system accessible, not just subways but the LIRR and Metro-North too,” MTA Chief Accessibility Officer Quemuel Arroyo said in a statement. “With these new elevators spread throughout the subway system and across Long Island, a large number of riders with disabilities, customers with children in strollers and visitors with luggage will benefit from an easier way to access mass transit.”
An MTA spokesperson said that the station’s accessibility upgrades are still in the design phase, and that more information can be shared when there’s a timeline for construction.
The allocated federal funds will also benefit other Queens cornerstones, including Queens College, borough hospitals, local nonprofits and small businesses.
They include $2 million for The City of New York’s District 6 Open Restaurants Dining Kits, $2 million for the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (Met Council), over $1.4 million for Queens College’s Small Business Development Initiative, $1 million for New York City Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst for the renovation of its Infectious Diseases Clinic, $1 million for the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Legal Desk support program, $1 million for Long Island Jewish Forest Hills’ establishment of Robotic Assisted Orthopedic Surgery, $1 million for the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty (Met Council), $1 million for Commonpoint Queens, $800,000 for LIFE Camp, Inc., $750,000 for 100 Suits for 100 Men, $750,000 for Churches United for Fair Housing, $750,000 for Queens College’s Colden Auditorium, $551,210 for DOROT (which serves older adults) and $250,000 La Jornada Food Pantry.
“As I’ve said, Queens deserves its fair share, and I’m thrilled to bring back more money for critical projects here in our borough,” Meng said in a statement.
“I am especially pleased that I was able to secure more than double the amount of what I obtained in last year’s government spending bill. I am always honored and proud to fight for Queens and I’ll never stop working to ensure that our communities have the resources they need. I thank the President for signing the new spending bill into law, and look forward to this more than $21.3 million benefiting our borough, and the neighborhoods I represent, for many years to come.”
The money that Meng secured is allocated under Congress’ Community Project Funding.
In last year’s government spending bill, Meng obtained nearly $10 million for projects throughout her district.