Queens College to study options for abandoned Rockaway Beach line


| mhayes@queenscourier.com |

THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes
THE COURIER/Photos by Maggie Hayes

Transportation advocates have had resurrection on the mind for the abandoned Rockaway Beach line (RBL), and are now getting local support to see if their vision can become a reality.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder announced on Monday that Queens College will undertake a study to assess the proposed options for the tracks.

Along with a rail line revival, plans exist to convert the 3.5-mile long space to a public park, the QueensWay.

“The whole idea is to expose all possible options,” said Dr. Leonard Rodberg, chair of the Department of Urban Studies, which will conduct the study.

Starting next spring, graduate and undergraduate students will be able to take research courses geared towards the RBL, studying the community impact of each plan. They will consider census data, existing transportation patterns and more.

During the summer of 2014, roughly a dozen students will be hired as research assistants to do field work, going out in the community and surveying both the area and residents. Completion is projected for the end of the summer.

“Our goal here is to do what’s in the best interest of Queens,” Goldfeder said. “We’ve got to look at all options.”

Rail line advocates are hoping for a compromise, and several members of the Queens Public Transit Committee would like to find “some common ground.”

“When you look at the QueensWay, it’s a great idea,” said Phil McManus, committee chair. “I’m not anti-park, I just think we need the train first.”

McManus said that bringing back the 40-minute commute between the Rockaways and midtown, paired with a park could be the best bet.

“If you exclusively do a park without a train, I’m afraid that we’d lose the train forever,” he said.

“We’re willing to work with whatever possible. I want transportation for this line, and beautification.”

For the upcoming study, Goldfeder plans to provide a capital grant of $50,000 to $100,000 to help with infrastructure needs. The college’s department will also set aside money from their budget.

“We need to utilize the tools that we’ve got, much like the rail line,” Goldfeder said. “Hopefully this can lead to the next step.”

 

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