Tag Archives: LIRR

Developers set to bring 48-room hotel to Jamaica site

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

With Jamaica emerging as the latest frontier for development in the city, one developer plans to erect a hotel on the site of a vacant three-family home right in the heart of the neighborhood.

CPEX announced the completion of the $1 million sale of 145-07 95th Ave. in Jamaica to Pride Hospitality, which plans to demolish the home and build a 48-room hotel in its place.

The site is ideal for a hotel, according to CPEX, as the location is within walking distance of the Jamaica Station, which connects riders with the E and J/Z subway lines, the Long Island Rail Road and the AirTrain to John F. Kennedy Airport.

The new hotel would go up two blocks away from the corner of Archer Avenue and Sutphin Boulevard, where the BRP Development Corporation plans to build a $225 million, 22-story tower featuring 80,000 square feet of retail space and 400 apartments.

“We are big believers in the Jamaica, Queens, market,” said Sean Kelly, managing director of CPEX’s Development and Conversion Investment Sales Team, which represented the seller. “Developers’ confidence in this market continues to grow. They are attracted by the density, flexible zoning, affordable land prices, some of the best transportation in all of New York City and the established retail and office market in this central business district.”


Corona man arrested for drunk driving on LIRR tracks in LIC

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of MTA PD

This guy took joy riding to a whole new level.

Ronny Mora, 25, of Corona was arrested Sunday night for allegedly driving his car while intoxicated on LIRR tracks in Long Island City and only coming to a stop after his car burst into flames upon striking a third rail, authorities said.

According to a criminal complaint, police were informed by a LIRR employee that on Sept. 20 between 10:45 and 11:43 p.m. he saw a 2011 Nissan Juke enter the train yard at the intersection of Borden Avenue and 11th Street. The employee added that he then saw the car drive eastbound on the track for about 3.25 miles.

The employee then saw the vehicle stop, and a man – later identified as Mora – exited the car and walked westbound on the track, authorities said.

Police then responded to a call of a vehicle stalled on the track and upon arrival saw the vehicle on fire.

A supervisor of transportation for the LIRR informed police that the train yard is enclosed by a fence to prevent intruders.

Cops later saw Mora sitting on the side of the tracks inside the train yard near the intersection of Borden Avenue and 11th Street. An officer noticed that Mora had bloodshot, watery eyes, slurred speech and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, according to the criminal complaint.

The 25-year-old then allegedly admitted, “I had one beer, I drove my car onto the track, I’m sorry. I saw it sparking so I left.”

Mora was taken to the 112th Precinct stationhouse in Forest Hills, where he was administered an Intoxilyzer exam that indicated he had a blood alcohol level of 0.164 percent, well above the legal 0.08 limit.

According to the MTA, the fire forced the LIRR to suspend service between Penn Station and Jamaica for almost three hours while the FDNY extinguished the flames and LIRR personnel repaired the third rail – which suffered damages exceeding $1,500 and create a risk for serious injury to passengers on trains.

Mora faces charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment, criminal trespass, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and leaving the scene of an incident without reporting property damage.


High Line-style park might be making its way to LIC: reports

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via Google Maps

Some unused railroad tracks in Long Island City might soon be given new life, as the MTA begins to reach out to the community for ideas on how to put the space to use, according to published reports.

The transit agency is currently looking for local groups to aid in restoring two sections of the Long Island Rail Road totaling more than a mile, which haven’t been used since the 1990s, the New York Post reported.

The sections include parts of the old Montauk and Main Line tracks located by the intersection of Skillman and 49th avenues.

According to Curbed, the MTA has released a Request For Expressions of Interest (RFEI) for that section as a way to examine different options from businesses, nonprofits, community groups and individuals. Ideas can include, but are not limited to, public open space, urban farming, or museum or sculpture garden space.

The stretch used to connect the LIRR’s Lower Montauk Branch, running along Newtown Creek, to the Sunnyside and Arch Street Yards to the north, according to the RFEI.

For anyone looking to submit concept ideas, they must offer access points; plan to bring utilities such as electricity and water to the area; and plan for site maintenance, according to Curbed.

This isn’t the first time a High Line-style park has been proposed for Queens. Plans were announced last year for a 3.5-mile stretch – dubbed QueensWay – of recreational, walking and biking trails crossing through the neighborhoods of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Glendale, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Ozone Park.


LIRR service slowly returning after power outage impedes morning rush

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@Geno_TV_Yaz

The Long Island Rail Road is running with extensive delays after a power failure affecting its signal system caused all service to be suspended during the Wednesday morning rush hour.

Train service came to a halt at about 7:50 a.m. after a power outage east of the East River tunnels in Queens affected the LIRR signal system. Riders were directed to use MTA New York City Transit trains and buses, which cross-honored fares.

As of 9:45 a.m., according to an MTA spokesperson, the LIRR restored limited train service between Jamaica and Penn Station, with trains operating every 15 minutes in both directions. Trains are stopping at the Kew Gardens, Forest Hills and Woodside stations every 30 minutes.

On the Port Washington branch and all other LIRR branches east of Jamaica, service is running with delays of up to 80 minutes, the MTA spokesperson said.

The LIRR hopes to have service running normally by the afternoon rush hour. Click here for service updates.


LIRR bridge work to close Glendale street

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Tom Walsh

A portion of a Glendale street is closed as the Long Island Rail Road reconstructs an overpass above it.

The LIRR is making repairs to the railroad bridge that runs above 65th Street between Otto Road and Shaler Avenue in Glendale, according to Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5.

The tracks, which are owned by the LIRR, are leased for use by New York and Atlantic Railway (NY&A). According to NY&A President Paul Victor, the project will require the entire bridge to be replaced. What makes this project more difficult is that it must be done “under traffic,” which means train operations will not stop during the construction.

Only one of the four tracks will be out of service at a time, according to Victor, which will allow NY&A’s freight trains to continue to operate during construction.

“The street is going to probably be closed for a two month period, give or take,” Victor said.

Giordano told the Ridgewood Times in a phone interview that he received verbal confirmation from the LIRR that “in all likelihood, the project will not be completed before the end of calendar year 2015.”

Emergency vehicles and residents should be prepared to use Cypress Hills Street or 80th Street as alternate routes while the bridge is closed, Giordano said.


Local group plays a major role in improving the Flushing landscape

| asuriel@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alina Suriel

Calling it “a labor of love,” the president of the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation (LDC) said the nonprofit group is working hard toward improving Flushing for the entire community.

Former Borough President Claire Shulman serves as president and CEO of the organization which is currently involved in the first stages of the downtown Flushing revitalization effort. The process began after the nonprofit was granted funds through a state environmental program to complete a master plan for an approximately 60-acre area of the neighborhood.

The project has since been largely taken over by the Department of City Planning, which has received funding from the LDC to study potential environmental impacts of rezoning the area and renamed the project “Flushing West.”

According to Shulman, Flushing needs increased city infrastructure because of the high volume of people it services. Reports by the state comptroller’s office have praised the neighborhood’s strong economy, with visitors drawn from all around the tri-state area to experience its legendary cultural and dining offerings.

“If you walk down Main Street, it’s as busy as Times Square. Look at all the people that are there,” said Shulman, who added that the area’s infrastructure includes housing for employees of Flushing small businesses, young families and local seniors.

While the Flushing West study is one of the most high profile of the LDC’s projects, the group has also undertaken other community initiatives.

In 2009, the LDC envisioned a plan to convert a municipal parking lot to a mixed-use facility which would address a significant need for senior facilities. They subsequently received a $14,000 grant to create more elaborate development plans for the project, which would incorporate the Flushing-Main Street Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station into the design, and the project is still in the early stages of planning.

The corporation has also worked with the MTA and LIRR to identify useful improvements to the Flushing-Main Street LIRR station. These will include two new elevators which will make the station handicap accessible, as well as platform railings, lighting and warning stripes. The contract to do the station work is expected to be awarded by the end of 2015.


Train that hit truck in Maspeth was speeding: investigators

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Anthony Giudice

The locomotive that crashed into a tractor-trailer at a Maspeth intersection on July 8 was traveling above the speed limit, and the man behind the switch could face disciplinary action, authorities reported.

The early-morning accident at the six-track railroad crossing on Maspeth Avenue near Rust Street caused the truck to burst into flames. The driver managed to escape with injuries not considered life-threatening.

Sources familiar with the investigation told The Courier on Tuesday that the train was moving at a minimum of 20 mph; the railroad speed limit for the area is 15 mph. Reportedly, the engineer operating the train is now facing disciplinary action.

Video of the accident obtained by The Courier shows the railroad crossing gates on Maspeth Avenue activated only at the moment of impact. A source familiar with the situation said the train’s faster speed may have delayed the gate’s activation.

But a union official, in a WABC-TV report on Tuesday, claimed one part of the gate “never comes down normally.”

New York and Atlantic Railway (NYA) President Paul Victor disagreed with notions that the gate malfunctioned, but conceded the Maspeth Avenue crossing’s design is flawed and requires improvement. The NYA reportedly asked the state Transportation Department to evaluate the signal system and the crossing’s logistics.

“Given the accident and the understanding that there have been other incidents there, it certainly makes logical sense to do an engineering evaluation of that crossing,” he said in a phone interview. “It’s a heavily trafficked route with lots of trucks and commercial traffic that goes back and forth. It’s a very unusual crossing.”

The crossing is part of the Long Island Rail Road’s Montauk branch extension, which is leased exclusively to NYA west of Jamaica for its freight rail operations. Wednesday’s accident raised concerns among local residents regarding the safety at other at-grade railroad crossings along the line, such as the one on 88th Street in Glendale.

According to Community Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri, the rail switches activating the crossing gates at 88th Street are dependent upon train speed. When passenger trains operated on the Montauk branch west of Jamaica, the switches were located 300 feet away from the crossing because the trains moved at 40 mph.

With the line exclusively used for freight rail and all trains limited to 15 mph, the switches were relocated to within 10 to 20 feet of the crossing, he noted. Freight train operators were also instructed to slow down when coming to a crossing, then send a crew member out to check that the crossing gates were activated before proceeding.

This change, Arcuri said, makes drivers and pedestrians at the 88th Street crossing especially “nervous,” as they can see the train very close to the crossing well before the gates are activated.

“The LIRR decided when they stopped the two passenger train runs to abandon the passenger line and turn it over [to NYA] as a freight line so they didn’t have to upgrade the signal system,” he added. The board has requested that the LIRR move the signal switch further back at 88th Street and other local at-grade crossings for safety’s sake.

Arcuri, however, claimed the freight signal system in place on the Montauk line is similar to that used on the Bushwick branch of the LIRR — which links up to the Montauk line — and other freight rail systems across the U.S. for generations.


Two struck and killed by LIRR train near Hollis station

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikipedia Commons/DanTD

A man and a woman in their 20s were fatally hit by a Long Island Rail Road train early Thursday morning just feet from the Hollis stop, an MTA spokeswoman said.

The victims, both 29, were trespassing along the tracks about 150 feet west of the station about 2:45 a.m. when a Penn Station-bound Ronkonkoma train struck the pair, according to a preliminary investigation. They were both pronounced at the scene.

There were about 100 to 200 passengers aboard at the time of the incident, the spokeswoman said. The train was close enough to the station that they were able to exit safely and transfer to another train.

There were delays on the Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson, Ronkonkoma and Hempstead branches due to the investigation until about 8 a.m. Westbound service for the Queens Village and Hollis stops was also suspended.

The investigation is ongoing.


American Pharoah goes for the Triple Crown at Belmont Park tomorrow

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy New York Racing Association/Adam Coglianese

Having won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, American Pharoah already proved himself a champion thoroughbred; the only question left is whether he is a racing legend.

It will be answered tomorrow at Belmont Park, when American Pharoah goes to the post in the Belmont Stakes as the 14th horse since 1979 with a chance to sweep all three legs of the Triple Crown.

American Pharoah comes to Belmont on a six-race winning streak and off a Preakness win in which he went wire-to-wire amid a torrential rainstorm. Standing between him and the Triple Crown is a trip around the daunting 12-furlong circuit of Belmont’s main track and seven challengers, each of whom did not race in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

Pharoah’s jockey and trainer have been in this spot before: Victor Espinoza and Bob Baffert brought War Emblem to Belmont in 2012 with a chance at a Triple Crown, only to see the colt stumble badly out of the gate and finish eighth. Last year, Espinoza rode California Chrome to a Triple Crown bid, but the colt finished fourth in the Belmont. Baffert came up short in two previous Triple Crown chances with Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1998 — the latter of which lost the Belmont by a nose.

As with any Triple Crown berth, a huge crowd is expected at Belmont Park on June 6. The New York Racing Association (NYRA) capped the maximum attendance at 90,000; last year’s Belmont Stakes drew over 100,000 but the cap aims to make patrons more comfortable and reduce overcrowding issues.

No general admission tickets will be sold at the gate tomorrow; all tickets must be purchased in advance online.

Last year’s event also ended on a sour note off-track due to problems with departing trains at the Belmont Park Long Island Rail Road station that left some patrons waiting hours after the final race to leave. The LIRR and NYRA spent $5 million to build two new concrete platforms and make other improvements to the station to better accommodate the thousands expected to travel to and from Belmont by rail Saturday.

Additionally, the NYRA scheduled a post-race Goo Goo Dolls concert to ease the crowd’s departure and reduce train and road congestion.

The $1.5 million Belmont Stakes highlights a championship 13-race card that includes nine other stakes races including the $1.25 million Metropolitan Mile for older horses, the $1 million Manhattan Stakes for older turf horses and the $1 million Ogden Phipps Handicap for older fillies and mares. The first post is 11:30 a.m.; the Belmont Stakes will go off at 6:52 p.m.

The Belmont Stakes field. Graphic courtesy NYRA.com

The Belmont Stakes field. (Graphic courtesy NYRA.com)


MTA Memorial Day weekend service changes

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by MTA / Patrick Cashin

The MTA will make the following service changes for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, according to the transit agency.

New York City Subway

On Monday, May 25, the city’s subway system will operate on a Sunday schedule. Customers are reminded to use the A, C, D or Q instead of the B and the J instead of the Z. Express service is not available on the 6 and 7. In addition, on Sundays, some subway routes are shortened. The following diversions are in effect on Memorial Day through 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, May 26:

• Manhattan-bound 1 trains run express from 14 St to Chambers St. Bronx-bound 1 trains run express from Times Sq-42 St to 72 St.
• Brooklyn-bound 2 trains run express from 14 St to Chambers St. Bronx-bound 2 trains run express from Times Sq-42 St to 72 St.
• 34 trains skip Rockaway Av and Van Siclen Av in both directions.
• Brooklyn-bound 46 trains skip 103 St.
• Bronx-bound 4 trains run local from Grand Central-42 St to 125 St.
• 5 trains are suspended between E 180 St and Bowling Green in both directions. 6 service is extended to Bowling Green.
• Far Rockaway/Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd bound, A trains skip Rockaway Blvd.
• Manhattan-bound AC trains run express from 59 St-Columbus Circle to 125 St.
• Brooklyn-bound C trains run express from 59 St-Columbus Circle to Canal St.
• Brooklyn-bound D trains are rerouted on the N line from 36 St to Coney Island-Stillwell Av.
• E trains run local in both directions between Roosevelt Av and Forest Hills-71 Av in Queens.
• Brooklyn-bound F trains are rerouted via the E line from Roosevelt Av to W 4 St-Wash Sq, and then via the A to Jay St-MetroTech. F trains run local in both directions from Roosevelt Av to Forest Hills-71 Av.
• Coney Island-Stillwell Av bound N trains stop at 45 St and 53 St.
• Coney Island-Stillwell Av bound Q trains run express from Prospect Park to Kings Hwy.
• Brooklyn-bound R trains stop at 53 St and 45 St. R service is extended to the Jamaica-179 St F station.

Long Island Rail Road

The Long Island Rail Road will provide 10 additional early-afternoon train trains from Penn Station on Friday, May 22. The LIRR will operate on a regular weekend schedule on Saturday and Sunday and on a holiday schedule on Memorial Day.

For more details, click here.

Metro-North Railroad

On Friday, May 22, Metro-North will provide 17 extra trains departing Grand Central between 1 and 4 p.m., and one extra departure from Hoboken Terminal on Metro-North’s Port Jervis Line. On Monday, May 25, Memorial Day, a Sunday schedule will be in effect on the Harlem, Hudson and New Haven Lines, and a weekend schedule will be in effect on the Port Jervis and Pascack Valley Lines.

For more details, click here.

Staten Island Railway

MTA Staten Island Railway will operate its Early Departure Get Away schedule on Friday, May 22. This schedule means extra SIR trains will be added earlier in the afternoon beginning at 2:30 p.m. from the St. George Ferry Terminal. There will be one express train and one local train awaiting every boat until 7:50 p.m. The Early Departure Get Away service plan on SIR is also available on Wednesday, July 3.

MTA Bridges and Tunnels

MTA Bridges and Tunnels will suspend all scheduled maintenance work beginning 1 p.m. on Friday, May 22, through the end of the morning rush on Tuesday, May 26.


LIRR train fatally strikes woman near Bayside station

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

A 41-year-old woman was struck and killed by a Long Island Rail Road train just west of the Bayside station Wednesday night, according to the MTA.

The woman, who wasn’t immediately identified, was hit by an eastbound train at about 11:30 p.m. as it was about to pull into the stop near Bell Boulevard, an LIRR spokesman said.

It wasn’t immediately clear what she was doing on the tracks.

The incident suspended service on the Port Washington line until 1:45 a.m.


Ridgewood civic focuses on bike lanes and local businesses

| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso


Transit, tenants and trees took center stage during a three-part presentation hosted by the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) on Thursday at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

Community Board 5 Public Transit Committee Co-Chair John Maier explained plans for new bike routes connecting Ridgewood and Glendale with other parts of Queens, including Rego Park. The RPOCA first requested the bicycle routes back in 2011. The Department of Transportation and Community Board 5 created a forum in 2013 to gather community input and feedback regarding preferred routes.

The first option for the proposed bike route plan would connect Ridgewood to Rego Park via various roadways in Middle Village. According to Maier, special road markings would be installed along Metropolitan Avenue and 69th Street. Eliot Avenue, however, is slated to receive actual designated bike lanes.

Option two would connect Glendale to Rego Park via 80th Street. Maier voiced safety concerns over the use of Dry Harbor Road for part of the proposed route and cited the narrowness of the roadway as being potentially problematic.

New pedestrian and bike passageways are also part of the Kosciusko Bridge Project, which began in 2014. Improvements also include the installation of a double suspension bridge aimed at increasing traffic flow.

Maier also announced that work may begin within the next one and a half years on long-awaited progress on the reconstruction of the bridge carrying Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road over Long Island Rail Road tracks on the Ridgewood/Middle Village border. Originally planned in 2005 but delayed repeatedly, he told residents the project has been fully funded and is in the final design phase.

Maier also pleaded for help from the community in getting the stalled Wyckoff Avenue reconstruction moving. The project would implement much-needed street repairs and sewer/water line replacement along Wyckoff Avenue between Flushing and Cooper Avenues.  He asked community members to act as advocates for the project and request sponsorship from local elected officials.

Ted Renz, Community Board 5 member and executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), also spoke about changes and initiatives in Ridgewood’s busiest commercial district. According to Renz, the BID is experiencing an influx of new tenants and residential construction.

Renz cited ongoing residential development, including the 135-unit building slated for St. Nicholas Avenue, as well as two fully occupied 45-unit buildings on Putnam and Myrtle Avenues, as evidence of the commercial district’s popularity among a new wave of younger tenants.

“We want a balanced community,” he said. “If you don’t have young people, then you’re a dying community. Living over a store, which nobody wanted years ago, is now becoming chic and popular.”

In addition to attracting new residents to the BID, Renz also hopes to apply for a grant from the New York Main Street Program, a state-sponsored revitalization effort, in the future. Renz hopes to pursue the program once he receives a strong commitment from local retail owners.

Finally, RPOCA Director Maryellen Borello sounded the call for volunteers to help with the Parks Department tree count in a 200-block radius in Ridgewood. According to Borello, the Ridgewood tree count will take place from June through August. Those interested in volunteering can visit www.rpoca.org for details.


More funding secured to upgrade outdated freight locomotives

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com


Extra funds are coming down the track from Albany to clean up some of the state’s dirtiest diesel locomotives.

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, along with other elected officials, civic organizations and the New York League of Conservative Voters, announced that $3 million was secured in the 2015 state budget to continue a program to overhaul old, state-owned freight locomotives.

This funding comes after Hevesi previously secured $6 million in the 2013 and 2014 state budgets. That money has already been put into retrofitting two locomotives of the 11-car fleet at Glendale’s Fresh Pond Railyard, which are set to roll out this December.

According to a source close to the situation, the first two locomotives, which received funding for upgrades during the last two years, were delayed getting their enhancements due to contract disputes with the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), which owns the railyard but leases it to the New York and Atlantic Railway. The two train cars went in for their scheduled upgrades this past summer and will be set to go by the end of the year.

“With this additional state funding, and the first two overhauled freight locomotives expected to come on-line later this year, it is encouraging that great strides are being made to fight for, and protect, the health of countless families in the boroughs of New York and on Long Island,” Hevesi said.

Retrofitting diesel freight engines was a top transportation and environmental priority in the Fiscal Year 2013, 2014 and 2015 Assembly budgets. The request was supported and signed by over 60 members of the Assembly, and received bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature.

“I am very pleased that the new state budget includes an additional $3 million that will be used to continue a program to upgrade the engines of antiquated LIRR freight locomotives,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “This program will improve the lives of Queens residents by reducing the unhealthy nitrogen oxide emissions and curbing the unpleasant noise pollution generated by the locomotives’ existing diesel engines.”

The train cars are currently equipped with antiquated engines which are up to the standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for 1970s locomotives and give off toxic emissions. These outdated trains operate throughout Brooklyn, Long Island and Queens, and specifically at the Fresh Pond Railyard.

“This funding gives us greater ammunition in the fight for our constituents’ quality of life and I am thrilled we can continue to see the progress in overhauling the antiquated freight locomotives,” state Senator Joseph Addabbo said. “This benefits people near and far to the rail tracks — allowing those close to be less disturbed by train rumblings and those all around to allow more fresh, clean air into their lungs.”

The continued funding of this program will allow for a third freight locomotive to be upgraded to meet the current EPA Tier 4 emissions standards. The EPA Tier 4 standards are some of the highest in the country since the EPA changed their emission standards in 2000.

The enhancements to this third train car is expected to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions — a known byproduct of diesel engines linked to respiratory diseases — by up to 76 percent per year, or the equivalent of 120 tons of emissions over 10 years.


MTA fare and toll hikes take effect Sunday

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com


MTA commuters will need to pay more to ride trains and buses beginning this Sunday, as the transit agency implements the 4 percent fare and toll hikes it approved in January.

The base fare for all New York City subway and local bus rides along with Paratransit/Access-a-Ride trips will go up a quarter, from $2.50 to $2.75. Express bus fares will climb 50 cents from $6 to $6.50 per trip.

Unlimited MetroCards will also cost more, with 30-day cards climbing from $112 to $116.50 and 7-day cards rising from $30 to $31. Transit riders who use Pay-Per-Ride MetroCards will receive an 11 percent bonus when they purchase or add at least $5.50 to their cards. The MTA will also continue its $1 surcharge for all new MetroCard purchases.

Meanwhile, Long Island Rail Road tickets will also increase by an average of about 4 percent. One-way off-peak trips between Penn Station and points in Zone 3 in Queens will rise from $7 to $7.25; one-way peak tickets will cost $10. CityTicket fares for one-way weekend travel within the city will climb to $4.25.

Additionally, the LIRR is eliminating “stop-overs,” in which customers who purchase one-way or round-trip tickets can exit the train at another stop, then re-board later in the day using a single ticket.

Drivers will also feel the pinch of higher tolls at the MTA’s bridges and tunnels taking effect this Sunday. One-way car trips across the Robert F. Kennedy, Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges and the Queens-Midtown and Hugh L. Carey tunnels will cost $8 cash or $5.54 for E-ZPass holders.

Car tolls to cross the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial or Cross Bay Veterans Memorial bridges will also increase to $3.25 cash or $1.73 for E-ZPass holders. Discounts continue to be available for residents in Broad Channel and the Rockaways.

It will also become more expensive to cross the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, as the one-way toll for cars will jump to $16 cash or $11.08 for E-ZPass holders; tolls are only collected from westbound traffic.

For further details, visit the MTA’s website.


CB 5 committees pan Cross Harbor Tunnel plans

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

File photo

Building a Cross Harbor Tunnel would shift the tri-state area’s traffic problems into Brooklyn and Queens, members of the Community Board 5 (CB 5) Transportation and Public Transit committees declared during a meeting Tuesday night in Glendale.

Panelists panned options in the Port Authority’s Cross Harbor Freight Program that call for a train tunnel or a combined train/truck tube through the harbor between rail yards in New Jersey and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The options include increased activity on the Long Island Rail Road’s Bay Ridge line and the connecting Fresh Pond Rail Yard in Glendale — the only freight rail terminal linking geographic Long Island and the rest of the country.

Though the Port Authority claims the tunnel plans would help reduce tractor-trailer traffic on its existing Hudson River and harbor crossings, CB 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri charged, the proposal wouldn’t remedy congestion, but rather move it elsewhere in the city.

According to Arcuri, the tunnel plans included the creation or expansion of intermodal shipping facilities and warehouses near the Fresh Pond Rail Yard as well as Maspeth and East New York. At these sites, goods would be loaded and off-loaded between train cars and small trucks. Citing analysis performed by the Glendale-based Civics United for Railroad and Environmental Solutions (CURES), Arcuri said, the tunnels would effectively add hundreds of truck trips each day onto local streets.

“By taking the largest tractor-trailers off the road and putting [their cargo] on the trains, they’re adding thousands of smaller trucks to our area,” he said. “We need to come up with a comprehensive argument against this current plan.”

John Maier, Public Transit Committee co-chair, echoed those sentiments, noting that much of the tunnel program’s concepts are based in “theory.” Municipal waste and construction and demolition debris from the city and Nassau and Suffolk counties make up the bulk of all local freight rail shipments. Other goods, he noted, are largely shipped by truck.

“The tunnel would do more to alleviate traffic outside of New York City than within it,” Maier said. “It’s not creating a lot of jobs because a lot of [shipping] is automated. It’s not a lot of yard jobs. It’s not a lot of anything, really. It would only reduce 6 percent of traffic on the Hudson River crossings while adding much more than 6 percent of traffic to East New York and Maspeth.”

Jean Tanler of the Maspeth Industrial Business Association stated that companies in the neighborhood’s Industrial Business Zone (IBZ) expressed similar concerns about a Cross Harbor Tunnel, but also pressed for easier shipping methods to reduce costs and travel time.

“There’s definitely demand,” she said. “It would save companies a lot of money to shave off a day of transit, either by rail or by barge.”

Local logistics also make a Cross Harbor Tunnel plan unfeasible, according to CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano. The plans indicate a tunnel would bring between 16 and 21 trains through the area each day — and current freight rail facilities are already overwhelmed with traffic.

“Right there, it’s physically impossible to pull that off unless the trains just rolled through at all hours of the day,” Giordano said.

Arcuri concluded that “the current plan is unacceptable” and that the board needed to present a resolution not only dismissing the Cross Harbor Tunnel, but also advocating for increased barge shipments and container float operations across the harbor. The chairperson said a resolution will be developed and considered at the committees’ next meeting on Tuesday, March 24.

Meanwhile, Queens residents will have the opportunity to speak out on the Cross Harbor program during a public hearing on Tuesday, March 3, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Queens Borough Hall, located at 120-55 Queens Blvd. in Kew Gardens.