On Monday, September 10, 2012, Einstein hosted the MTA Metro North Railroad and New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) as they held a town hall meeting for the local Bronx community to present plans for a proposed expansion of the MTA's Metro-North commuter train service, including a stop bordering the College of Medicine's Morris Park neighborhood. In all, four new stops are in the plans, with Co-op City, Parkchester and Hunt's Point rounding out the other locations.
Dr. Allen M. Spiegel, Einstein's Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean, welcomed more than 80 members of the local community who attended the meeting in the LeFrak Auditorium after viewing renderings of the proposed stations and related community developments, which were on display in the lobby of the Price Center/Block Research Pavilion. He then introduced the leadership of Metro North and DCP who each made presentations detailing the proposals currently under consideration.
"Having these stops added to the current Metro-North New Haven line would open up new opportunities for residents of the Bronx, many of whom make the reverse commute to Westchester and Connecticut but lack easy access to the existing commuter lines," said Robert MacLagger, vice president for planning at the MTA, presenting the agency's proposal. "Since we will be using existing track, the main expense will be constructing the four train stations to provide the expanded service for rail commuters." An additional benefit of these stops, he noted, is that Bronx residents will be able to reach Manhattan in 25 minutes, a trip that now takes most more than an hour.
A federal environmental assessment is currently underway to determine the viability of the plans, which would use the train tracks where Amtrak's Regional and Acela trains run from Penn Station and connect with the New Haven Line in New Rochelle. As a result, users of the New Haven line would be able to access Penn Station in conjunction with the opening of Long Island Railroad East Side Access service to Grand Central Terminal.
"The train station and related developments planned for Morris Park would be situated along Bassett Road, directly across from the intersection at Eastchester Road and Morris Park Avenue, said Mike Heller, associate director of community and government relations. "In addition to introducing direct rail service to Morris Park from communities in Westchester and Connecticut, and from Morris Park to suburban employment centers in eastern Westchester and Connecticut, the expanded rail service will support development projects in the Bronx." These include the Marriott Hotel at the Hutchinson Metro Center (now under construction), a new mall with a Macy's in Co-op City and a proposed Woodbury Commons-like complex where the Whitestone Cinemas currently is.
Following the presentations, members of the community were invited to ask questions and share feedback. To share your opinions, e-mail Todd DiScala at Discala@mnr.org, or call 212-499-4490.
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