Tag Archives: Rockaway Beach rail line

Rockaway train line would serve half a million riders a day, says study


| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Throwing a wrench into plans for the QueensWay park, a new study claims the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line would generate nearly half a million rides a day.

“The rail line would connect north and south Queens like no other [form of transportation],” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said at a press conference in Queens College Monday.

“The results of this study clearly show that reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line is the best, most cost-efficient way to decrease commute times, improve access to existing parkland and grow our small businesses in Queens.”

The study, “A community impact study of proposed uses of the Rockaway Beach Branch right of way,” surveyed thousands of residents and assessed transportation and park needs in the surrounding communities of the rail line.

If reactivated, the study says, the rail line will ease congestion and commute times, and connect north and south Queens in a way that is currently not available with existing subway lines.

The project was student-led under the watch of Dr. Scott Larson, director of the office of community studies at Queens College.

“We did not come to the conclusion of what the best use for the land would be. That wasn’t the point of it,” Larson said. “We did it to add to the debate and provide objective information.”

A summary of the study reads: “The Rockaway Beach Branch line presents a unique opportunity as a potential transportation improvement. The effect would be faster travel between southern Queens, including the Rockaways, and northern/western Queens, Midtown Manhattan and points north.”

It goes on to mention that while ridership in south Queens is low compared to other parts of the city, commute times are long and the restoration of the line could lead to positive savings in travel times for the riders.

The rail line has been out of commission since the 1960s. If the rail line was seen as the most viable option for the land, it would cost about $700 million to fully restore it.

Currently, there is a debate on whether the land should be used to restore the transit line, make access to the QueensWay, or use the land for both transportation and park features.

The QueensWay would cost about $120 million to fully build out. Advocates for the QueensWay say the land would better be used as parkland rather than for transportation.

“The QueensWay would be free to everyone,” said Mark Matsil, a representative from the Trust for Public Land. “We have support from many elected officials. The QueensWay is economically feasible.”

Matsil said they are in the process of raising funds for the design phase of the QueensWay.

But Goldfeder believes that more and improved transit in Queens is a top priority for the borough, and not using this existing infrastructure would be a waste.

“Complete restoration of the rail line will increase transit options for every resident in Queens and NYC, create quality jobs, boost our economic development, ease commutes and congestion and clean our environment by taking thousands of cars off the road,” said Goldfeder. “I urge the MTA to include restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line in their next capital plan.”

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Plans released for possible QueensWay


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of thequeensway.org

It’s the Queens way.

A 3.5-mile stretch of recreational, walking and biking trails is planned for central and southern Queens as part of a multi-million dollar proposal that has coined the name, QueensWay.

“This will be a wonderful park for Queens,” said Will Rogers, president of The Trust for Public Land.

The QueensWay plans, proposed by W X Y architecture + urban design, will add a mix of new recreational and cultural opportunities and nature trails for the borough, said the Friends of the QueensWay.

The path, if built, will cross through the neighborhoods of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Glendale, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, affecting over 322,000 people living within a mile of it.

In the plans, there are proposed areas for ecology and education, where planners are hoping to build an outdoor classroom for children to be able to learn the biodiversity in Queens.

Also, there will be two sets of trails for bicyclist and pedestrians to ensure the safety of everyone who uses the QueensWay.

Furthermore, there are plans for basketball courts, a skate park, habitat wetlands, arts-related programs and a gateway entrance from the QueensWay to Forest Park.

“Parks are too often neglected and QueensWay would offer more access to open space and parkland,” said state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky. “Parks provide an economic benefit to local business, retail establishments and restaurants and people of all ages would be able to enjoy the recreational opportunities which this new green space would provide.”

The estimated cost for the QueensWay is $120 million and, if started, will take three to five years to build.

Although it has the backing of many elected officials and community leaders, some feel the narrow stretch of former rail line could be put to better use.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder is a staunch advocate for the restoration of the Rockaway Beach rail line, which once ran on the property being looked at for the QueensWay. He has formed a coalition to fight to get it back.

“The QueensWay and Trust for Public Land have wasted taxpayer dollars on expensive, out-of-state consultants and one-sided studies that don’t actually represent the interests or needs of Queens’ families,” Goldfeder said. “Our growing coalition, including the MTA, will continue the fight to expand transit in Queens while easing commutes, creating jobs, cleaning the environment and expanding our economic development.”

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Rockaway Beach Rail Line gaining support


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder

Commuting to Manhattan from South Queens can be a miserable experience, but growing support for additional transportation options may alleviate these headaches.

“In addition to improving the terrible service on the A train, the MTA must increase bus service and restore the Rockaway Beach Rail Line,” Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder said, at the oversight hearing of the MTA capital budget plan from 2015 to 2019. “In the immediate aftermath of Sandy, we experienced firsthand the detrimental impact that the lack of public transit has on our families — in order to plan for our future growth, we must invest in vital transit infrastructure now.”

The MTA included the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line as part of their 20-year capital budget plan, which they outlined at the meeting on Aug. 7. Rail line restoration would mean quicker commute time to Manhattan for residents as well as economic growth for the area — and even supply a one-seat ride from mid-town Manhattan to JFK airport, Goldfeder said.

Advocates for more efficient South Queens transportation also advised the MTA to fix some ongoing issues in the neighborhood, including the possibility of toll rebates for cars from Howard Beach and Ozone Park that traverse the Cross Bay Bridge to and from Rockaway, Goldfeder said.

“There is no debate, improving current subway lines, increasing service and investing in projects like the Rockaway Beach Rail Line will benefit every resident of New York City,” he added. “No more excuses, every family should get the transit resources they deserve. In today’s difficult economy, we need more affordable and reliable transportation that will allow our city to grow and prepare for the future.”

 

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MTA plan includes restoring Rockaway Beach Rail Line


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder

The Rockaway rail line will soon be back on track.

The MTA released its 20-Year Capital Needs Assessment, which includes the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line.

“This report is a huge step forward,” said Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder.

Goldfeder petitioned Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Port Authority and MTA last year in hopes of bringing back the rail line.

Rockaway residents frequently advocate for the rail line’s restoration, holding rallies and forums within the community.

Philip McManus, founder of Queens Public Transit Committee, said bringing back the line, which hasn’t been active since the 1960s, is the “big idea” that will greatly benefit the peninsula and beyond.

“A train doesn’t go one way, it goes both ways,” he said. “It’ll open up access to more jobs, better jobs, more schools, better schools.”

The MTA’s Capital Needs Assessment is a blueprint that details the transit group’s vision to improve the city’s transportation infrastructure for 2015 to 2034. It noted the current lack of available “travel corridors” in the area.

The report says there is a need for “major reconstruction and/or full replacement” of the line and falls into its “Major System Improvement” category. Alternative alignments and technologies may also be considered to “better meet the needs of Rockaway customers and their communities.”

The Rockaway line carries A train service, which will run through the borough from Rockaway Park to Manhattan’s Penn Station. Previously, it provided roughly a 40-minute commute to Midtown. McManus said it will also open up Howard Beach to Woodhaven and is long overdue for the isolated community.

“You look at before the train was taken — Rockaway was a thriving summer community. There was a lot of business down here,” he said.

The rail line segment that runs over Jamaica Bay will be addressed in the 2025 to 2029 period and the over-land segment in 2030 to 2034, said the MTA report. McManus is glad to hear any timeline.

“Before there was no timeline, it could have been 50 years. I’m glad we finally got a 20-year life sentence,” he said. “But I’m hoping this life sentence gets reprieved and we can get it done in five years.”

 

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Op-Ed: Recovery through economic activity and investment


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER PHILLIP GOLDFEDER

Last year, the legislature passed a bill, as the first step in the process to amending the state constitution, allowing enhanced gaming in up to seven locations across the state. While this was only the beginning, it was a huge victory for Queens families who have already benefited from the economic development and jobs created by Resorts World at Aqueduct and realize the potential for growth. In his annual state of the state address, Governor Andrew Cuomo shared a vision for the future of our state and I look forward to our continued partnership and collaboration in an effort to boost every community across the state.

In southern Queens and Rockaway, Sandy has left a path of unimaginable devastation and destruction and it will take the coordinated efforts of the public and private sector to fully recover. Now, more than ever, we need to find new and creative ways to help our small businesses to create good-paying jobs and rejuvenate our local economy. Creating a full-scale, enhanced gaming casino at Resorts World would not only increase revenues for the community and the state, but the impact would be felt immediately in terms of economic activity and job creation for southern Queens and Rockaway families.

Expanding gaming also provides opportunities for continued investment in southern Queens and Rockaway infrastructure. I continue to be a staunch advocate for the complete restoration of the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line, as it would be the right solution to not only encourage economic development but to increase transit options for all of Queens’ families. Created at the turn of the century, the Rockaway Beach Rail Line, also known as White Pot Junction, was owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road. Strategically placed within a major network of trains throughout New York City, the rail line provided residents with safe, affordable and expedient access to other parts of Queens and the rest of the city.

There is no need to look any farther than Resorts World at Aqueduct, a proven location for enhanced gaming and reliable community partner. Since their first year anniversary, Resorts World has set records in slot machine gaming, beating out the casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, contributing millions of dollars towards the education of our children. Further, Resorts World has been a valuable neighbor that has worked hand-in-hand with elected leaders, the NYPD and our community to ensure a seamless development at the Aqueduct facility. Resorts World is the perfect example of partnership and we need to give them the tools necessary to continue to succeed so that our families and small businesses may continue to recover and become even more resilient.

In addition to their success as a casino, Resorts World is committed to a long term partnership with our community and has continued their positive relationship through vital investments in our local organizations and standing on the front lines of Sandy relief and recovery. Given the right tools, Resorts World will continue to exceed every expectation, expand on our local workforce and stimulate our local economy, in addition to creating opportunities for the continued success and recovery of Queens.

Goldfeder represents the 23rd Assembly District including Ozone Park, Lindenwood, Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways.

 

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QueensWay vs. LIRR debated at public forum


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

As the fate of the land that was once the Rockaway Beach rail line remains uncertain, residents of the area are divided between a nature walkway and revival of the LIRR.

At a public forum on Saturday, September 30, hosted by the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, there were advocates for the QueensWay — the proposed nature walk’s official name — and for the reinstatement of the LIRR line, which has not been in use for half a century.

The QueensWay would open economic development to the neighborhoods running from Rego Park to Ozone Park, and help arts and culture in southern Queens to flourish, said Andrea Crawford, a member of Friends of QueensWay. The Queensway, she said, would be a safe area, closed at night.

“This isn’t just a biking or hiking path,” she said. “This will help spur an economic development all along where the tracks run with restaurants, with shops, with all the things that feed into the great cultural space that Queens is.”

Crawford, also chair of Community Board 9, said an LIRR path was not ideal for the area, which has been heavily developed since the original line completely stopped service in 1962.

The train line, on the other hand, would cut the commute from south Queens to Midtown by roughly a third of what it is on the current “A” and “J” train services, according to transit advocate John Rozankowski.

“Today, if you want to get from Midtown Manhattan using the “J” train, the trip takes you a solid hour,” he said. “If the Rockaway line is reactivated, that same trip will take 23 minutes.”

Rozankowski said a new, faster and quieter Rockaway Beach line should be the top priority for the land, because it would bring tourists to the area and provide faster access to Manhattan for those who work in the city. “Reactivating the Rockaway line will launch a spree of economic growth in southern Queens,” he added. “And what that means is property values around the railroad and around the small businesses will soar.”

Woodhaven residents on both sides of the issue are worried about what impact either project would have on day-to-day life, and voiced some of these concerns following the two presentations.

Several living on 98th Street said a potential LIRR line would heavily impact their life and over-urbanize their quiet neighborhood. Joe Guzman, who lives on 98th Street and Jamaica Avenue, said he moved to Woodhaven for a touch of comparatively suburban life. Guzman brought into question whether or not Resorts World Casino New York City had anything to do with the push for the line in order to attract more customers.

The QueensWay, at the same time, could also possibly affect Guzman and his neighbors, he said, and suggested the city simply clean up the heavily polluted strip of land.

“I understand that it’s all junked up there and it’s messy, [but] the trees there provide already quality of life,” he said. “If you look at the tracks, you’re going to probably have to remove most of the trees.”

Those in favor of the Rockaway Beach line noted that there currently was no mass transit system that ran north to south in Queens and, as a result, traffic on Woodhaven Boulevard was unbearable.

“I commuted to Woodside for nine years along Woodhaven Boulevard,” said Allan Rosen. “If the Rockaway Line is not reactivated, the MTA will propose taking two lanes of traffic and parking away from Woodhaven Boulevard, replacing them with exclusive lanes for Select Bus Service.”

Fate of defunct Queens rail tracks to be debated


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association

The future of 50-year defunct rail tracks that run from Rego Park to the Jamaica Bay will be debated on Saturday, September 29 at a public forum hosted by the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA).

The hearing, to be held at the Queens Tabernacle at 1 p.m., will host advocates for a natural walkway, Friends of Queensway, and those who are for a revival of the Rockaway Beach rail line, which ended all service in 1962.

Regardless of what becomes of the trail, the impact on residents must be taken into place, said WRBA Communications Director Alex Blenkinsopp.

“My entire life, I’ve resided just a block away from those tracks.  I know that either proposal, if it became a reality, would have an enormous impact on those who live nearby, and on Woodhaven as a whole,” he said. “Other neighborhoods have publicly weighed in on this debate.  Now it’s time for the people of Woodhaven to hear the arguments for each side, ask tough questions, and make known where they stand.”

Residents may ask either side questions when the presentations are completed.