Bronx lawmakers want to see Metro-North roll through neighborhoods in the borough that have little access to rail transportation, and they are planning about a year ahead of the budget season to ensure the project gets started. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.
Folks who live in the eastern Bronx know the commute to Manhattan is long.
"There are a lot of things you could do with that hour and a half to three hours in extra commuting time that we have," said Joseph Oddo, treasurer of the Pelham Bay Civic Association.
Oddo said that's turning potential investors away.
"Once we start discussing transportation, their attitude changes," he said.
Things could change, though, if four Metro-North stations are built in Hunts Point, Parkchester, Morris Park and Co-Op City.
Travel time could be cut to about 20 minutes for some, making people think twice about the area.
That sentiment was echoed in a report commissioned by state Senator Jeff Klein and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz about the economic impact of the railroad's expansion in the borough.
"It will be $1.1 billion in new spending for the Bronx when we get these new Metro-North stations," Klein said. "They will create 5,400 new jobs."
The report also projected home values and commercial space increasing.
The report will be given to state legislators to convince them to include the project in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Capital Budget.
Lawmakers in Albany won't decide that until next spring, but Diaz and Klein are making their case early because the MTA Capital Budget is for a five-year period.
They said it's imperative that the Bronx Metro-North stations are included in the next capital program that ends in 2019 to coincide with East Access of the Long Island Rail Road into Grand Central.
"The moment they open up Grand Central in 2019 is the moment that then, the LIRR would say, 'We can give the tracks, four, five tracks from Penn Station, so that the Bronx could have the Metro-North running and stopping at Penn Station," Diaz said.
Diaz said the failure to include the stations in the next capital budget could delay the project for another decade.
Klein, who is also one of the leaders of the state Senate, said he's committed to getting state funding for the project and won't sign off on an MTA budget unless the Metro-North project is included.