Editorial: Long Island’s wish list for Gov. Hochul — Port Jeff Branch...

Editorial: Long Island’s wish list for Gov. Hochul — Port Jeff Branch electrification

File photo by Erika Karp

In keeping with the spirit of the season, the governor came to town Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 12, bringing gifts from Albany.

At the Suffolk County Water Authority in Hauppauge, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) delivered a significant announcement on clean water, awarding our county tens of millions of dollars to address the deteriorating septic systems beneath our feet that pollute our drinking supply.

At a time of intense polarization over the future of our wastewater infrastructure, we regard Hochul’s action as a positive first step. Hochul’s arrival in Suffolk was a visible reminder that our state government is listening to our concerns, in tune with the pressing issues of our times and taking action to rectify them. We hope to see the governor again soon, especially given the growing list of local matters demanding her attention.

As SCWA chair Charlie Lefkowitz indicated during his remarks, the electrification of the Port Jefferson Branch of the Long Island Rail Road represents a generational investment in our transportation infrastructure. That kind of investment by New York State would help unlock the full potential of Stony Brook University, an institution Hochul just last year named the southern flagship of our state university system.

Electrifying the Port Jeff line would facilitate greater interconnectivity between communities along the North Shore, with economic development rewards for the commercial hubs around those train stations. Electrification would breathe new life into the North Shore. 

This year, the Port Jeff Branch reached a milestone when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority opted to include the electrification project within its 2025-2044 20-Year Needs Assessment. It is now time for the MTA to advance the project, laying down the necessary seed funds to kickstart the planning studies and environmental reviews. Let’s move this project out of the station.

Past generations of New Yorkers constructed the Erie Canal, the New York City subway system and the state parkway network. Our generation can electrify the Port Jeff Branch, though we need gubernatorial initiative.

Hochul made her presence felt Tuesday afternoon. We ask for her continued presence and advocacy for the project that our community needs most. We thank the governor for the state dollars toward clean water. Now, we ask for her commitment to electrify our rail line.