- The Calverton Rail Access Rehabilitation project continues to move towards operation. On Friday, May 7 the Riverhead Town Board
broke ground for construction accompanied by a large coalition of rail supporters including public officials, local businesses and participating agencies.
Governor David A. Paterson
certified Recovery Act funding for the town-sponsored project last November. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Tim Bishop
, a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, were key to securing the funding. The Calverton project also has received three other grants from New York State. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority last March provided $75,000 towards the engineering study and design of the project. In October, Governor Paterson announced the award of $650,000 from the New York State Empire Stated Development Downstate Revitalization Fund for preliminary work on the project. Most recently, the New York State Department of Transportation awarded another $350,000 for the LIRR switch installation.
Railroad Construction Company, Inc. of Paterson, New Jersey, has been awarded the construction contract and Dunn Engineering will provide Construction Inspection with project design by HDR and additional design assistance from Saratoga. The project is scheduled for completion next winter.
Supervisor Sean Walter
was pleased with the project's progress, "The Town of Riverhead wants to do whatever it can to help businesses that locate here to compete effectively - whether it be with other businesses on Long Island, the Metropolitan New York area or now, nationwide. We are here to work with businesses and our fellow elected officials to make things happen. This project is a great example of cooperative leadership - from the tremendous support of Governor Paterson, U.S. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Congressman Bishop, New York State Senator LaValle, New York State Assemblyman Alessi and Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine
"The Calverton Rail Access Rehabilitation project is a perfect example of how investing funds wisely will lead to economic recovery, and this project will not only revitalize the local economy, but it will create jobs and lead to sustainable growth," Governor Paterson said. "Economic development begins by keeping our entrepreneurs, workers and families in New York and providing them with the tools to improve their communities and our State. I commend Senator Schumer, Congressman Bishop, New York's Congressional and State delegations, as well as the Town of Riverhead for working together in moving this project along."
"Investing Recovery Act funding in Long Island's freight infrastructure is a win-win," Schumer said. "Not only will these funds create needed construction jobs in Riverhead and ease traffic congestion along highways, but it will lower the cost of transporting goods on Long Island. This project is a great example of how the stimulus is creating jobs and essential new infrastructure to build a stronger economy."
"This stimulus-funded project will lay the foundation for long-term private sector growth at the Calverton Enterprise Park while providing much-needed construction jobs in Riverhead Town," Congressman Tim Bishop said. "The rail spur will make doing business at the Park more efficient and less expensive, exactly the kind of investment that will continue our economic recovery."
"New York State recognizes the importance of rail access to the viability and economic growth of this site and therefore contributed to the assistance secured by Congressman Bishop," said Dennis M. Mullen, Chairman & CEO designate of Empire State Development. "The economic development and environmental benefits of transporting freight by rail have been well documented. I applaud the town and its partners for their vision and persistence in making this project a reality."
Stanley Gee, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation, said, "Under Governor Paterson's leadership, the Department of Transportation has been working hard to advance the Calverton rail access rehabilitation project. Shipping goods by rail is an integral part of the Department's multi-modal transportation approach. I particularly thank Congressman Bishop for his dedication to making this project happen and for working with us to address the area's freight transportation needs."
Senator Kenneth LaValle
stated: "I have been an advocate of the Calverton Rail Spur project as an integral component of Riverhead's economic engine and was instrumental in securing $500,000 in the 2003 MTA Capital
Program Funds for its refurbishment. I am pleased that the town has resolved the issues that have delayed this project and are now moving forward with creating a freight rail service that will provide an environmentally friendly way to transport goods to eastern Long Island."
Assemblyman Marc Alessi
said, "This project will not only help decrease the number of trucks on the road and alleviate traffic congestion, it also has the potential to create jobs and lower the cost of goods here on the East End. We need to continue to make smart investments like this that will have a positive impact on our community."
Legislator Ed Romaine is a transportation advocate for Riverhead and the East End and supports the rehab of freight rail access to EPCAL wholeheartedly: "I applaud Riverhead's efforts to make good use of this important existing infrastructure. We need to continue to draw together East End towns to provide creative solutions to transportation as well as access to low-cost supply chain management. Lower cost rail transport equates to multiple positives for the East End - low cost goods as well as more job options for East End residents. Let's rally behind Riverhead's central location to find sensible solutions to transportation of goods and people."
Councilman Jim Wooten wants to see businesses choose Riverhead for its business friendly practices: "This is one of many projects the Riverhead Town Board will fast track to help businesses survive the down economy. Access to rail will retain existing businesses on Long Island and attract new companies to locate at Calverton Enterprise Park - companies that need space are looking further east on Long Island but this means they need lower transportation costs to compete effectively with other New York area businesses."
Councilman John Dunleavy
, a former Grumman employee agreed, "The existing buildings at the Calverton Enterprise Park were used to manufacture airplanes and the hangar interiors are massive and tall with no column - a perfect fit for freight use."
Councilman George Gabrielsen would like to encourage freight rail use with additional facilities, "Supporting business expansion and development at EPCAL helps all Riverhead taxpayers. This rail project goes even further by benefiting all of the East End with lower priced goods and hopefully more jobs. This project is even helping New York City
residents by removing trucks from the roads so it has great and far reaching effects."
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio was pleased with the potential of job creation for the Riverhead area, "I couldn't have chosen a more perfect time for this project to come to fruition. Jobs, jobs and more jobs - That's what this project will accomplish in the start of the construction for this major endeavor and the jobs to be created upon completion of the rail spur. This could not have happened without the support of top notch government officials and Riverhead employees who truly care about Riverhead. Thank you all!"
Riverhead Building Supply recently built a 250,000 square foot Calverton Manufacturing & Millwork Facility and executives are extremely pleased with the news, "We applaud the Governor's decision and the untiring efforts of Riverhead Town officials with regard to the reconstruction of rail service to EPCAL. This investment in the future strength of Riverhead will make EPCAL more attractive to employers and encourage the creation of jobs. Lower inbound freight costs should enable local business to more favorably compete with out-of-state firms already having access to rail service. In addition, the reduction in truck traffic on our highways and local roads will benefit motorists well beyond the Town of Riverhead."
Metro Bio Fuels is building a biodiesel storage and office facility at Enterprise Park at Calverton, an adaptive reuse of existing fuel tanks from the Grumman operation at the industrial park. Paul J. Pullo, President of Metro Fuel Oil Corporation is happy to see the rail come to fruition: "The rail is a great thing that will give the businesses a more competitive edge that will hopefully lead to creating more jobs. Also, it's good for the environment and traffic on the LIE because it removes trucks from roads. Overall freight rail is a more efficient transport - safer and better."