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Meeks says East Side Access crucial for southeast Queens

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U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) argued in favor of the proposed Long Island Rail Road East Side Access project before the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee last week.

“It is a project that is critical to the future of not only my district and my constituents, but to our region’s economy and mobility,” Meeks said.

According to Meeks, the project would allow about 60,000 passengers to save up to 20 minutes of travel time by dropping them at Grand Central Terminal on the East Side of Manhattan instead of Penn Station on the West Side.

The project would ultimately allow for a 45 percent increase in railroad capacity, Meeks said, serving about 179,000 commuters daily who travel to and from Manhattan, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties.

“As many of you also know, the project has a unique synergy with another transportation project in my district, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s ‘AirTrain,’ which is being constructed as we speak,” Meeks said.

The AirTrain will connect Long Island Rail Road passengers and J, Z, A and E subway riders with John F. Kennedy International Airport.

“By hooking this all to Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, AirTrain will increase its efficiency by reaching the international business travel market,” Meeks said, adding that the East Side Access project, coupled with AirTrain, will add numerous jobs throughout Jamaica, the heart of his district.

The East Side Access project has received $54 million in federal funds and Meeks requested an additional $149 million for next year.

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