With $81 million in transportation grant funding available through the New York State Transportation Bond Act, which was passed by voters in November, one local elected official is urging the MTA to get the rehabilitation of the 86th Street R train station on track in the near future. Representative Vito Fossella has written both New York State Governor George Pataki and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairperson Peter Kalikow urging them to apply for the grant money that is available through the bond act, to speed up work on the dilapidated station that is long overdue. As it now stands, the station is scheduled to be renovated in 2020. Anyone who uses the 86th Street station, remarked Fossella, knows it needs renovation. There hasnt been much work done there in decades. Last year, Fossella allocated $4 million in federal transportation funding for the rehabilitation of the station which is located at Fourth Avenue. That funding requires a 20 percent match by the MTA, which would bring the total money available without additional funding through the recently passed bond act to $4.8 million. It is estimated that refurbishing the station including making it handicapped-accessible would cost in excess of $20 million. The only specific projects proposed for Brooklyn within the Transportation Bond Act are improvements to Long Island Railroad bridges and tracks, for a total of $14.75 million, to enable the system to handle increased freight transport. We are committed to getting the 86th Street station renovated to the fullest extent possible, noted Fossella. We think the MTA really has an obligation to put more money into the project, not just to enhance the station but to make the station handicapped accessible. The 86th Street station is a perfect example of what the bond act is supposed to do. Asked whether it would have been better had station renovations been specifically included in the initial bond act, Fossella acknowledged that it would have been. But, he went on, now the MTA and others are left to make some of these decisions. We are trying to highlight this as a priority in the system. The money is going to be spent somewhere. Why not on a worthwhile project in the heart of Bay Ridge? Craig Eaton, the chairperson of Community Board 10, agreed. The complete overhaul of the 86th Street station, he stressed, has been a number one priority of CB 10 for many years. The station, he went on, Is one of the most utilized train stations in the city of New York. Based upon such use, the residents of CB 10 deserve to have the station renovated, obtaining the necessary funding from the recent passage of New York States transportation bond act. There are other stations that have been renovated more than once, Eaton added. This station has never been renovated, and the conditions there are deplorable. In addition, he said there is no handicapped accessibility on the Fourth Avenue line closer than the Pacific Street station. Peter Killen, the co-chairperson of the Bay Ridge Community Councils Traffic & Transportation Committee said that the group, Would be very happy to see extra money coming in. The group, he noted, has been advocating to make the station handicapped-accessible, Fighting for elevators from the street to the concourse and from the concourse to the platform. They have also been fighting for decorative murals to be installed at the station as part of an overall rehabilitation effort, said Killen, who noted that attorney Janele Hyer Spencer had agreed to file papers, pro bono, on behalf of the group, To try to get one percent of funds dedicated to cultural improvements, for murals at the station. By press time, the MTA did not respond to a request for comment.
©2006 Community News Group
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