September 20, 2006

East End Wins Major Transportation Grant

In a major transportation victory, town supervisors gathered with Senator Ken LaValle, Assemblyman Fred Thiele and Assemblyman Marc Alessi to celebrate a $360,000 grant awarded by Governor George Pataki and geared toward a study that could make getting around on the East End just a little bit easier.

A New York State Shared Municipal Services Incentives grant was recently awarded to the Town of Southampton; funding was sought by the five East End towns and Five Town Rural Transit, Inc. with the goal of studying the possibility of a coordinated rail and bus network on the East End.

And it was a home run — $360,000 equals 15% of all transportation monies distributed in this round of grants from the state.

Grant monies will be used to complete planning and assessment activities so that, ultimately, a public referendum will be held and voters will be able to decide upon the creation of a regional transportation system for the East End.

Cardinale said the study of a regional rail and bus transportation network is necessary to "inspire some really substantial mass transit use on the East End," including better and more frequent east/west service, as well as north/south service, which, he said, "is virtually nonexistent now."

The regional concept will be based upon a transportation service currently utilized in Cape Cod which features smaller busses that stop by appointment at the homes of individual residents.

"I think it's significant that, in the age of spin and sound bite, we are actually addressing a significant issue, mass transportation on the East End, from the ground up," said Cardinale.

The grant was the result of joint effort between all five towns, the state and the governor's office.

When applying for the grant, each East End town agreed to contribute an amount proportionate to its population. "I figured it was a gesture, but lost money," said Cardinale. "But it was a really good investment."

Thanks to the additional funding, said Cardinale, the regional transportation concept "has a real possibility of catching fire."

And that's good news, said the supervisor. "Hopefully, the East End will stand on its own in regard to mass transportation because we're really not getting a lot of attention. Suffolk County is struggling. What exists now just doesn't function," he said. "They really don't worry about anything east of Ronkonkoma."

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