This week, the office of Senator Chuck Schumer and Town of Babylon Supervisor Rich Schaffer organized the first meeting of a task force dedicated to moving the Connect Long Island plan [pdf] forward. While the blueprint for growth along the Route 110 corridor—completed in October 2011 when smart growth champion and now-Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone was Town of Babylon Supervisor—is still in its initial phases, this task force represents the first step towards realizing its full potential.
The plan hinges upon smarter land use patterns and transit-oriented development in East Farmingdale and along the Route 110 corridor. The area, the largest job center on Long Island, has little room for automobile-centered growth, which is why the plan calls for reactivating the long-dormant Republic Station on the Ronkonkoma Branch of the Long Island Rail Road and implementing an enhanced north-south transit system along the Route 110 corridor.
In order to push the project into the next phase, Senator Schumer’s office brought together planning officials from both Suffolk County and the Town of Babylon, state and local elected officials, the LIRR Commuter’s Council, the Melville Chamber of Commerce, the Long Island Builders Institute, Vision Long Island, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, and others. Representatives from both the MTA and NYSDOT were also present. Members of the task force will work collectively to draw public and private investment into redevelopment opportunities along the corridor, while coordinating with Senator Schumer’s office and the Town of Babylon.
The movement forward on the Connect Long Island plan followed a recent announcement that $138 million in additional funding had been included in the MTA’s 2010-2014 Capital Program. This funding will be used to begin double track construction along the Long Island Rail Road from Farmingdale to Ronkonkoma, which would drastically improve service on the Ronkonkoma branch, allowing for greater reverse and intra-Island commuting. The first phase of construction will take place from Central Islip to Ronkonkoma, and when completed, will not only support transit-oriented development proposals at Republic Airport and along Route 110, but also redevelopment at the Ronkonkoma Hub and in Farmingdale’s downtown.
The Route 110 transit corridor proposal has already undergone a feasibility assessment, and last fall received $360,000 in funding from the Federal Transit Administration to conduct an alternatives analysis.