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Photo courtesy Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder's office
Photo courtesy Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder's office
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder has announced that funds for a feasibility study for the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach line is included in this year's Assembly budget proposal.

Queens’ Rockaway Beach line took a “huge step” toward reactivation on Tuesday when Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder announced that this year’s Assembly one-house budget proposal will include millions of dollars for a feasibility study of the line.

Many transit advocates across the “World’s Borough” have been fighting to get the Rockaway Beach line up and running again, providing service from the Rockaways and southern Queens to areas such as Rego Park and the rest of the city on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) that hasn’t been seen since the route stopped operating in 1962.

“We are extremely happy. There is no doubt that this is the next step in getting the train back in Queens,” said Phil McManus, president of the Queens Public Transit Committee. “We’re all hurting out here when it comes to transportation. I love the idea that Assemblyman Goldfeder got the money for the study. Now we are going to have to monitor this study and make sure that it is done correctly.”

The proposal of this study includes language that would requires the MTA to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study of the line, noting that “constructing new mass transit routes and services reduces vehicle traffic and alleviates congestion.” The MTA would be required to complete the study and submit their findings to the governor and the leaders in both houses of the legislature no later than March 1, 2017.

“With so many families in Queens suffering through some of the longest commutes in the city, it’s important that we explore every option to improve transportation. A feasibility study of reactivation [of] the Rockaway Beach Rail Line will do just that,” Goldfeder said. “This study will provide us with an accurate picture of the state of the line and show not just what it would cost to reactivate, but also the impact this would have on thousands of commuters in the community.”

Goldfeder expects the MTA to assess the current condition of infrastructure along the 4 miles of tracks, as well as the full cost of reactivating it for passenger service. He also hopes the study will contain the benefits of reactivation, including potential ridership and the economic benefits to the surrounding communities.

“This is a huge step forward for families in southern Queens and the entire city who deserve transit equity,” Goldfeder said. “For too long, we have let this valuable right-of-way remain unused and abandoned. The new study will confirm that full restoration of the line is the most cost effective and environmentally sound way to ease congestion on our roadways, connect Queens neighborhoods and improve commutes for every New York City family.”

“A feasibility study is a commendable idea for the old Rockaway line. Seeing this in the final budget would demonstrate how serious we are about improving transportation options for the residents of my district,” said Assemblyman Mike Miller. “An important question that should be asked is how we can connect this rail line to the current Long Island Rail Road service already on Atlantic Avenue. I would hope that in the process the study takes into account all factors, especially homeowners who live next to the rail line. We must ensure that quality of life is maintained for all members of the community.”

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Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. March 24, 2016 / 12:25PM
Let me tell you and all of the people who supported Queensrail, or the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Branch: Phil, I agree that we need to improve transportation for all users: bus riders, cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, subway riders, etc. Let's be realistic and serious - The MTA 2015-2019 Capital Plan was not approved by the Capital Program Review Board for the following reasons, in which the MTA still needs $7.3B for their program that was unfunded: 1) The MOVE NY Fair Tolling Plan and other forms of congestion pricing in NYC are out of the question because many elected officials and their constituents in the outer boroughs are firmly opposed these, due to the fact that some people have no other transportation options except driving a motorized vehicle point a to point b and they are the part of the working class; 2) The need for increased taxes in the MTA region are out of the question because both Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Republican Led State Senate are firmly opposed these; 3) The need for kicking the can down the road or playing political football by putting is now out of the question because remember, by June 30 of this year, the MTA are running out of their own money for not only this capital plan, but for billions upon billions of dollars in deferred maintenance via the state of good repair; 4) Borrow the $7.3B via bonds, which could lead to 7.3% fare and toll hikes on the top of the biennial 4% fare and toll hikes for bridges, tunnels, subways, buses and commuter rail; 5) A major dispute between Upstate New York, where they needed $22B for road and bridge maintenance, and Downstate New York, where they need $7.3B for mass transit maintenance; and 6) It is not only either a local, city, or state issue, but also a national issue - look at what's going on in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. (with the Metro once was shutting down for a day), Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco (with BART was suffering major delays), and Los Angeles, where dozens upon billions of dollars in deferred maintenance are needed to be funded. Disclaimer: I am a Riders Alliance Member who is with many of my brethren during the MTA Board Meeting on that day. Note: Before you criticize me, take yourself in the mirror and ask yourself: Is NYC will have a next fiscal crisis because of this? And don't mention about fare evasion by the riders or the taxpayers who are footed the bill for this: That is the least of our problems. Disclaimer: Keep in mind that the MTA Chairman and CEO had said that they are taking this seriously as a long term project. The reasons: 1) According to the most recent U.S. Census in 2014, over 8.6 Million people are living in the 5 Boroughs, with the highest is in Queens, with a 5% increase; 2) Therefore, the more people coming in to a city, the more need for better public transportation in the short-term, the median term, and the long-term; and 3) Even the State Comptroller and now the NYC DOT Commissioner, who is also a Board Member of the MTA had said that this project is a big deal. As a peacemaker, let's come to a major consensus between your Queen Public Transit Committee, as well as my Riders Alliance and their allies, such as the Straphangers Campaign and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. Let's bury the hatchet. BTW, the City of New Still owns it: It is the step in the right direction. However: The biggest obstacle is Governor Cuomo, and we all have a grunge on him, being a person who loves driving, even though he was born and raised in your home Borough in Queens. So Phil, I will put you, Allen Rosen, and all of your members of the Queens Public Transit Committee to look at the mirror and ask yourself: If you want the Rockaway Beach Branch to be reactivated for transit use, are you going after: 1) Governor Cuomo; 2) The State Legislature; 3) The Trust for Public Land; 4) The NYC DOT; or 5) Other Trnsportation Advocates such as the Riders Alliance. And don't blame on me: I I am just a "Rogue," Freelance, Reporting Researcher.
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James Donohue March 16, 2016 / 04:11PM
A more up-to-date map, which shows the Rockaway Beach Branch as a dashed red line... Note, the JFK AirTrain , shown in yellow... There was a proposal to run the AirTrain over the Rockaway Beach Branch, which would have given JFK passengers a quicker ride to midtown, but it was voted down...
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James Donohue March 16, 2016 / 03:12PM
In this old, old map, the Rockaway Beach Branch is highlighted in Red:
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James Donohue March 16, 2016 / 03:54PM
Here's a link to an informative , LIRR , historical website: http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/far%20rockaway%20branch/farrockawaybranch.htm
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Jack Urbani March 16, 2016 / 01:59PM
A graphic or map would have been helpful.
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Danny Ruscillo March 16, 2016 / 10:15AM
Phil you never give up thanks!
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