Does a proposed light rail line for western Queens have a chance at becoming a reality? Those in attendance at a special meeting in Glendale last week about the plan seem to believe it can.
More than 20 community stakeholders attended the meeting at Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s district office in The Shops at Atlas Park to hear the first public stakeholder outreach presentation by the Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding Crowley’s light rail proposal.
Since announcing her proposal over a year ago for a light rail system that would run on the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Lower Montauk Branch from Jamaica to Long Island City — dubbed the QNS Light Rail plan (no affiliation with this website) — Crowley has received support from major players in the area. They include local residents, the surrounding community boards — including Community Board 5 — the entire City Council Queens delegation, local state elected officials, Borough President Melinda Katz and Congresswoman Grace Meng.
“This meeting marked a pivotal step in the process of making the QNS Light Rail a reality,” Crowley said. “Our borough is growing faster than city planners could have ever accounted for, and we need infrastructure that supports that growth. Light rail would bring reliable public transit to transportation deserts, get countless cars off the road, boost our economy and help the environment.”
“Strong support within the community is what will keep this project alive. I’m happy we can all work together to make the Queens of tomorrow a successful and thriving borough,” she added.
Aside from the local and political support, Crowley was also able to get $500,000 in the 2017 city budget to fund a feasibility study of the 8.5 miles of track on which the light rail would run.
The study — which will be managed by the DOT and conducted by AECOM, an engineering, design, construction and management firm — will help determine the plan’s feasibility, including how much it will cost, logistics related to construction, connectivity to existing transit options, compatibility with existing freight use on the line, as well as potential ridership and station siting, along with rail and freight transport options, passenger service history, a corridor overview, the area context, at-grade crossings and local bus networks.
“Improving transit options in Queens means better access to jobs, shopping and services, and quicker routes to schools, home and loved ones,” said DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia. “We thank Council member Crowley for her leadership and support, and for the opportunity to conduct this important feasibility study for commuter rail on the LIRR Lower Montauk Branch.”