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Romaine and Bellone compromise on site for new LIRR Yaphank station

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Brookhaven Town and Suffolk County officials have weighed in on the relocation of the LIRR’s Yaphank train station for a few years.

They’ve now finally reached an accord.

Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine and Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone sent a letter to LIRR president Philip Erg Friday to state their preferred site for a new Yaphank station on the Ronkonoma line.

They propose that the station relocate to the industrial complex south of the Long Island Expressway and east of William Floyd parkway.

The station would be built on the eastern end of the complex and accessible via Precision Drive.

Their preference is less than five miles northeast of the station’s current, rather sequestered location among various Suffolk County buildings.

Romaine said he and Bellone “had been at odds for a while” regarding a new location for a Yaphank station. While he favored a site adjacent to the Suffolk County Police Department’s Seventh Precinct, he said Bellone preferred the station relocate to within Brookhaven National Lab.

The supervisor believes this compromise, as well as the recently passed infrastructure bill at the federal level, will help the project — in the works for three years — move along.

“We came to a compromise and I’m happy we did,” Romaine said. “I want this station to move forward. I think it means a great deal in terms of public transportation for Long Island. And particularly if you can electrify as well as move the station.”

William Floyd Parkway is key

Even before the compromise with Bellone, Romaine said he was adamant the Yaphank Station be relocated closer to William Floyd Parkway, a more convenient access point compared to Ronkonkoma, especially for East End residents traveling west. Typically, eastern county residents will drive to Ronkonkoma to cut out local, East End stops.

The proposed site is about four miles south of Brookhaven National Laboratory. The lab employs more than 2,500 people and sees approximately 5,075 visiting facility users and guest researchers annually, according to a 2019 document from the laboratory.

It is also within a few miles of the new and massive residential and mixed-use complex, The Boulevard.

When the station relocation was first proposed, Romaine said, the LIRR estimated a new station with a continued electric line from Ronkonkoma, and a minimum of 500 parking spaces would be necessary.

This would be a massive increase in ridership from the current Yaphank station, where its already limited traffic dwindled even further following the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The station gets two or three cars every day, and I pass it every single day on Yaphank Avenue on my way to work,” Romaine said. “No one even knows how to get there.”

timeline unknown

There is $20 million earmarked for the LIRR Yaphank station relocation project through the MTA’s 2015-2019 capital program, according to an MTA spokesperson.

The relocation initiative has been in the works since 2018, when the MTA issued a contract for preliminary design and environmental review. According to an MTA spokesperson, there is no projected timeline as to when construction may begin.

Before shovels can go in the ground, the conceptual designs for a handful of considered locations must be completed. The transit authority must also determine the final site, a process during which it considers the input of local officials.

“We are grateful that the leadership of Suffolk County and the Town of Brookhaven is agreeable to working with the MTA to choose a site for the relocation of the Yaphank LIRR station,” MTA Spokesperson Dave Steckel said in a statement. “We will incorporate their ideas into our assessment to meet operating needs of the LIRR and commuting priorities of our customers.”

A new, more eastern station, according to the project’s website, would “better meet current and future transportation demands associated with existing and future commercial and residential economic development projects in Central and Eastern Suffolk County.”