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MTA ferry from Nassau’s South Shore needed, lawmakers say

Assemb. Melissa Miller and State Sen. Todd Kaminsky

Assemb. Melissa Miller and State Sen. Todd Kaminsky urged the MTA to expand Manhattan-bound ferry service to Nassau's South Shore during a news conference at Jamaica Bay on Sunday, July 23, 2017. Credit: Johnny Milano

Two state lawmakers are urging the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to expand Manhattan-bound ferry services to the South Shore of Nassau County.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Assemb. Melissa Miller held a news conference Sunday at Inwood Park on the shore of Jamaica Bay. In a letter to MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota, Kaminsky and Miller invited officials and commuters to tour potential docking locations for a commuter ferry near Inwood to reduce traffic on roads and crowding on the Long Island Rail Road.

“Long Island as we know it only exists in the way it does because people can live there and get to and from New York City to work,” said Kaminsky (D-Long Beach). “There’s never been a tidal wave of people calling my office about any issue like there has been about the LIRR… It’s just central.”

State officials in May approved a $27 billion, five-year spending plan for MTA system capital improvements, which will lead to more delays in the future as tracks and tunnels are closed for upgrades, Kaminsky said. The temporary Glen Cove ferry service into and out of Manhattan — which launched two weeks ago as Amtrak began summerlong track repairs at Penn Station — is a good example of an alternative commuter route that has proved successful, he added.

“Our roadways are already very congested and overused,” said Miller (R-Atlantic Beach). “When we add in the commuters that are traveling on the road because the trains are crowded, it makes it that much worse.”

Commuters from the Inwood area were invited to the news conference to share their experiences about the Inwood LIRR station and discuss their interest in seeing a ferry route on the South Shore.

“I walk to Far Rockaway and go on the A train, which is about an hour and a half walk from here,” said Jeffrey Louis, an LIRR commuter and Inwood resident. “If the ferry comes out here, I could literally walk over here to go on the ferry. It would probably cut my commute in half.”

Kaminsky said he doesn’t have an estimate on how much a South Shore ferry service would cost, because it would depend on the cost of infrastructure upgrades to the surrounding area and on the need for additional dredging. However, the cost would be a fraction of the amount needed to maintain a Manhattan-bound rail line, he said.

“I think in the scheme of what we’re spending, this would not be all that much and would go pretty far,” he said.

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