Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent announcement of $120 million in additional investments in Long Island Rail Road stations continues an extraordinary commitment by the state that will lead to the seamless connection of the Long Island and New York City economies, benefiting the entire region. It won’t simply tie the geographies together; it will connect world-class strengths to better position the region as a global powerhouse of innovation.

The latest announcement should be seen in the context of previous commitments to the Long Island Rail Road—a remarkable asset with 124 stations spread across Long Island and the city—and its rapidly changing role. Historically the LIRR brought Long Islanders to and from work in New York City, and one of its weaknesses has been serving reverse-commuters. Ongoing improvements will connect the two geographies in either direction, enabling both to benefit more fully from the other.

The largest capital project involving the LIRR is East Side Access, one of the biggest transportation infrastructure undertakings in the nation. When service begins—now projected for 2022—the $10 billion initiative will give LIRR riders direct access to the east side of Manhattan via a new eight-track terminal and concourse below Grand Central Terminal.

In addition, New York state is aggressively pursuing development of the LIRR Expansion Project, which would add a Third Track along a 9.8-mile stretch of the railroad’s Main Line between Floral Park and Hicksville. By relieving a bottleneck that has undermined the reliability of train service, Third Track will dramatically improve reverse-commuting and service within Long Island.

Now comes the governor’s proposed $120 million investment in 16 LIRR stations, improved connections to a new terminal at MacArthur Airport and a new stop at Brookhaven National Laboratory. The 16 stations include Farmingdale (serving the Route 110 “Biotech Corridor”), Syosset (serving Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory) and Stony Brook (serving Stony Brook University).

These combined capital investments will be transformational for the regional economy because they will enable renowned strengths to be connected in new and exciting ways. Innovation depends on serendipitous interactions, and while those interactions cannot be planned, they must be facilitated.

New York City and Long Island have extraordinary potential for collaboration in the field of biotechnology, for instance, as Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association, discussed in Crain’s op-ed Dec. 30. Now imagine that synergy being facilitated by public transportation to a degree never before experienced in the region.

Renowned New York City institutions including Cornell Tech, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the major city-based hospital complexes and universities will be far more easily connected to distinguished Long Island-based institutions including Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Northwell Health and Stony Brook University. Tied more easily together will be eight medical schools and three AAU research universities.

This investment in LIRR infrastructure is truly visionary. It’s exactly the kind of farsighted investment needed to ensure that the New York City region is a global leader in innovation for generations to come.