The plan to bring commuter light rail to Glendale is chugging along.
Hoping to garner support from Community Board 5’s (CB 5) Transportation and Public Transit Committees, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley presented her plans for a light rail infrastructure on the former lower Montauk line during the committees’ joint meeting on Tuesday night.
“What I would like to do as the next step in pushing this plan forward is why I’m here tonight: to engage you to consider putting a resolution together to support this plan, or something similar, to bring commuter rail back to this line,” Crowley said. “And I’m putting together a mission statement and a task force.”
Crowley believes that a commuter light rail line could benefit the communities it would service in several ways, the first being to bring more transportation options to Glendale.
“I don’t need to tell you, I live here right by Atlas Park, that this has been somewhat of a transportation desert in comparison to much of the rest of the city that is in such close proximity to the core,” Crowley said.
A light rail line, operating on the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Montauk branch, would create a connection from Glendale to Long Island City. Crowley proposes that the line would start at The Shops at Atlas Park, where there are 1,300 parking spaces available, with stops heading west, terminating at the Hunterspoint Avenue LIRR stop, which has a train depot to store and turn trains around.
The Montauk line also connects to the LIRR Bushwick branch, which is heavily used by freight rail but offers a potential light rail connection to Brooklyn, the legislator noted.
“I’m thinking if we bring it back … you could have an [interborough] connection to get to Brooklyn … that interborough connection is important and we need to improve on that,” Crowley said.
Adding a light rail line, Crowley noted, would also entice some of the young, creative professionals moving into Bushwick and Ridgewood to relocate or open up businesses in Glendale and other surrounding communities, thus creating economic growth.
“If you look at the line, there is a lot of underutilized manufacturing which is also threatening us,” Crowley said. “We have rich architecture in these old loft-style buildings which could provide opportunities for new technologies and economic development if we had a way to bring people to jobs that could be created in these buildings.”
In order to get her plan moving, the councilwoman has already met with several of her colleagues in the government including Assemblymen Mike Miller and Andrew Hevesi, Congresswoman Grace Meng, state Senator Joseph Addabbo and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.
“Right now, they all like what we’re discussing,” Crowley said. “I haven’t heard many negatives other than where are we going to get the money for this project.”
Members of the committees saw the potential in Crowley’s current plan, and even looked further ahead to a much larger plan extending the line to the west and the east.
“If you look at a master plan so to speak, this would be phase one of the master plan. You want to create this rail from a Glendale station in Atlas Park to wherever,” said CB 5 Chair Vincent Arcuri. “Eventually then the next phase would be into Sunnyside, 63rd Street, down the Second Avenue East Side Access. The third phase could be the Rockaway Branch, so that may be a whole presentation and we were the first ones to come out in favor of a rail transportation system on the Rockaway Branch.”
Some committee members were concerned over what type of effect a rail line like this would have on the freight operations on the line. Crowley responded by saying that companies are looking to increase the amount of freight, and if the community does not recognize this track as a benefit then it might be taken over for freight transportation.
The committees are expected to come up with a resolution on Crowley’s plan in the weeks ahead.