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LIRR Should Run 24/7 to Willets Point for Proposed AirTrain, Pol Says

By Katie Honan | January 28, 2015 5:27pm
 The current AirTrain plan will connect riders at Willets Point.
The current AirTrain plan will connect riders at Willets Point.
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WILLETS POINT — The Long Island Rail Road should operate 24/7 at Willets Point as part of the governor's proposed AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport to help workers get to their jobs and minimize congestion, according to a letter sent by Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras.

Ferreras, who represents the area and was an integral part of the plan to redevelop Willets Point, sent Gov. Andrew Cuomo a note about his AirTrain plan with suggestions that can help the community.

Those suggestions include renovation of the bridge that connects the 7 train and the LIRR as well as 24-hour service at the LIRR station, which is on the Port Washington branch.

"The LIRR station at Willets Point — a seasonal-use station — and the connection to LaGuardia Airport should be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure everyone who lands, departs and works at the airport has the same ease of travel," she wrote.

The station is currently only open for events at the park, including the U.S Open and Mets games.

And unlike the subway, the LIRR does not run all day and night. Service on the Port Washington branch ends around 1 a.m. and resumes around 4 a.m.

Cuomo's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ferreras also suggested improved access to Willets Point, which has already been announced by the MTA. 

The $450 million AirTrain plan, which Cuomo announced on Jan. 20, should take an estimated five years and connect travelers to the airport with connections on the 7 train and LIRR at Willets Point, officials said. 

The rail line could ease travel for fliers but also for airport workers, Ferreras said.

"A speedy and dependable alternative to driving, like 24/7 train service going in multiple directions, would be a great improvement to meet the demands of workers, visitors and residents," she wrote.

Residents in East Elmhurst have complained that workers park in front of their homes to go to work, according to Ferreras' office.

Parking for the AirTrain would be discussed with the governor's office, according to Ferreras' spokeswoman.

While community approval on such a project isn't required, it's important to get input.

"We want to make ensure there's a conversation," Ferreras' spokeswoman said.