In 1985, the Long Island Rail Road eliminated service at its Elmhurst station, and, a few years later, eliminated the station itself.
Now Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) and Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Queens and the Bronx) are teaming up in an effort to rebuild and reopen the depot.
In an interview on Tuesday, Dromm said he is mindful that it could cost tens of millions of dollars to build a station where one was closed due to lack of use back when President Ronald Reagan was starting his second term in the White House.
“There has been a large increase in the population,” Dromm said. “It’s the largest-growing part of my district. I think it would be worth the investment.”
In a letter to LIRR President Helena Williams dated Jan. 24, Dromm and Crowley said the station fueled the area’s growth between 1898 and 1985.
They wrote that the closure “seriously undermined” Elmhurst’s development.
Crowley, in a statement issued by his office, said the move would help make Elmhurst and businesses such as the Queens Center mall destinations for those outside of the immediate region.
He and Dromm also said it would increase access for Elmhurst residents to Penn Station and Manhattan.
The old station was two blocks away from the No. 7 subway line, which at $2.25 per ride, runs into Grand Central Terminal several times per hour.
Under the current LIRR fare structure, a one-way trip between Elmhurst and Penn Station would cost $4.50 off-peak and $6.50 during rush hour. Dromm believes people would use both trains and those who say the subway alone is enough are wrong.
“By that rationale, the LIRR should shut down its Flushing and Woodside stations because there are subways nearby,” he said, acknowledging that both stations are busy, and the original Elmhurst station was closed by the LIRR for lack of ridership.
“But that was 27 years ago,” he said, citing not only the mall but an increase in residential construction in the area. He said it would spur jobs and growth.
An LIRR spokesman said the agency will meet with Crowley to discuss the matter.