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Schumer urges Feds to dedicate more than $13M to improve roads around Ronkonkoma Hub project

Sen. Chuck Schumer announces a major effort to

Sen. Chuck Schumer announces a major effort to help secure $13M in federal infrastructure funding for the massive Ronkonkoma Hub on Sept. 18, 2015. Credit: Steve Pfost

Sen. Chuck Schumer urged the federal government Friday to deliver more than $13 million to improve roads leading to the Ronkonkoma Hub project.

Joined at the Long Island Rail Road's Ronkonkoma station by Brookhaven Town officials, Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced a major effort to secure a $13.8 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for the high-stakes development.

Schumer said that for the $475 million Hub project to move forward, federal assistance will be necessary.

"The Ronkonkoma Hub plan should be held up as a national model of what transit-oriented development is all about," he said. "I'm going to do everything I can to drive this funding home."

The 58-acre Hub project is a mixed-use transit-oriented development at the Ronkonkoma station, near Long Island MacArthur Airport, that will include 1,450 housing units, 360,000 square feet of office space, and 60,000 square feet of flexible uses like residential, hospitality, conference and exhibition space.

The TIGER grant would go toward enhancing access between the development and the Long Island Expressway via Hawkins Avenue, building new roads and rebuilding or repairing existing ones.

"We have here the makings of a true intermodal transportation hub that will service air, rail and road," said Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, who added that Schumer's advocacy will make "a world of difference" in securing the federal grant.

Schumer said "four or five" projects elsewhere in the United States are competing for the funding, but he believes the Hub is the best fit for the grant's specifications.

He said he plans to further lobby for the project during a scheduled meeting with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Tuesday. Schumer said he expects to learn whether the Hub will win the grant "in the next month or two."

Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, a planning group, said the Hub is an example of the smart growth "renaissance" underway on the Island. He said local political leaders' efforts to foster community support made it a viable project for Schumer to get behind.

"These types of projects need to be planned from the community -- really, from the bottom up," Alexander said.

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