It is no secret that I have been an outspoken advocate for the complete restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line. Rehabilitating this train service would be a boon for all of Queens, by providing affordable and reliable transportation options to Queens families, spurring economic growth for our businesses and cutting down on traffic throughout the borough.
I fully support the total restoration of the line and will continue to work tirelessly to make this dream for many residents, a reality.
Recently, there has been some debate and a lot of false information disseminated regarding the restoration of this rail line and I feel compelled to respond and clarify a few points.
In recent news articles, critics have claimed that the city’s strained budget and our struggling economy will hamper funding for the restoration. I believe that the restoration would pay for itself in the form of economic development and job creation. The increase in tax revenue from the economic activity spurred by the new train-not to mention the thousands of construction and infra- structure jobs that would be created- makes this the perfect project to undertake sooner rather than later.
Additionally, Resorts World Casino which has already created 1,700 jobs at the Aqueduct Racetrack has publicly stated that they would help fund part of the infrastructure rehabilitation.
It has also been said that rehabilitating the line will be disruptive and intrusive to residents who have built homes near the abandoned line. When one builds a home on or near rail road tracks, regardless if the tracks are in service at the time of purchase, one may run the risk of noise or potential return of transportation.
I live near JFK Airport and constantly hear air traffic over my house, but I would never expect the airport to close down in order to suit my needs nor would it be realistic to just assume that if it did it would never again be re-opened.
Technologies have been developing to mitigate both noise pollution and the environmental impact of trains and railways. In the United Kingdom, scientists and engineers have developed a rail system called SilentTrack which will reduce rail traffic noise by up to 50 percent. Soundproofing walls may provide an additional level of mitigation for neighboring residents.
New York is known as the capital of innovation and I would expect us to reclaim our greatness by utilizing the most advanced technology to ensure the best experience for passengers and pedestrians alike.
Transportation options for southern Queens and Rockaway residents are severely limited. Restoration of this forgotten rail line as an adequate transportation alternative to current subway lines would be welcomed news to many residents, especially those who currently suffer with commutes of well over an hour to midtown Manhattan.
In addition, there are currently no trains in place that run from north to south within the borough. Rapid development is demanding a greater reliance on public transportation for residents, yet, there are few solutions, and as a result commuters are burdened with heavy travel time and crowded subways and buses.
Restoring service to the Rockaway Beach Rail Line would significantly reduce the commute time from southern Queens and the Rockaways to midtown Manhattan to 45 minutes. It would also increase the number of people visiting Queens, by making it more accessible to travelers, whether it is for the racetrack, casino, beaches or any of the other wonderful attractions our borough has to offer-all of which would help create jobs and enable small businesses to thrive.
I understand that some will be opposed to this plan and I recognize some of their concerns and would hope that we could work together to find a solution. Those strongest in opposition already have a direct 35 minute train ride to midtown Manhattan, and all that we are asking is for the same privilege for others.
Despite limited transportation options, southern Queens has seen a large population and construction boom, the opening of the Resorts World Casino at the Aqueduct Racetrack and the renaissance of the Rockaway Peninsula as a tourist haven in recent years. In order to capitalize on that growth, but more importantly to look to the future, we need to be focusing on ways to improve our transportation infrastructure and not putting up roadblocks to economic advancement.
Queens families have been fighting to restore the abandoned rail line for the past 20 years and they deserve adequate commute times and crosstown public transportation. I will do everything that I can to advance this proposal and work with every interested party to do what is in the best interest of the entire borough.
Editor’s note: Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder represents the 23rd Assembly District, which includes parts of Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, Lindenwood, Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the Rockaways