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Community Board 5 committees back light rail concept for western Queens

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Amid concerns about potential negative impacts on the neighborhood, the Community Board 5 Transportation and Public Transit committees narrowly recommended at its Tuesday meeting a local lawmaker’s vision of introducing light rail service to the area.

With many communities within CB 5 suffering from a lack of transportation options, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley put forth a plan that would connect Glendale with Long Island City by using the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Montauk Line’s existing right of way for commuter rail service and has asked for CB 5’s support in moving forward with her plan.

John Maier, co-chair of the Transportation Services Committee, drafted a resolution for both committees to vote on in support of Crowley’s concept during the committees’ joint meeting.

Crowley’s plan would create new passenger stations located at the Atlas Park Mall in Glendale, the M train at the Metropolitan Avenue station in Middle Village, the abandoned Fresh Pond Road station beneath the existing Fresh Pond Road/Metropolitan Avenue overpass, Flushing Avenue in Maspeth and the Hunters Point Terminal in Long Island City.

The resolution also noted that if this system should come to fruition in the future, it should be part of a larger master plan with additional phases.

“Further phases to possibly include the re-activation of the old Rockaway Branch Line of the LIRR, re-activation of the Bushwick Branch of the LIRR, and connections to LIRR’s East Side Access to Grand Central or LIRR’s existing Penn Station Access should also be considered,” the resolution states.

The committees voted 7-5 with one non-vote and one abstention in favor of the resolution, supporting Crowley’s concept. There was some concern from board members regarding a stop at Atlas Park, especially if it would become the first or last stop on the route.

“We don’t really know this thing. We don’t know what’s the project ridership, what stations, how many cars can we park. Do we want all these cars, people coming from all over a 5-mile, 10-mile radius to park in the Atlas area?” asked Bob Holden. “Do we want to have potentially thousands of cars?”

This resolution will now be put forth to the full board for a vote during the next CB 5 meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

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