Community Board 5 supports western Queens light rail concept

Community Board 5 backed Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley's light rail plan during their meeting on Dec. 9.
RIDGEWOOD TIMES/Photo by Anthony Giudice

They’re on board with light rail in western Queens.

Members of Community Board 5 overwhelmingly backed a resolution at its Wednesday meeting supporting a local lawmaker’s plan to bring a light rail system between Glendale and Long Island City along the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Montauk branch.

The 34-6 vote backed the idea previously pitched by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, though there were some concerns over negative impacts this plan could bring to the communities.

“[Light rail] is quiet, energy efficient, it’s a mode of transportation that I believe is just the right type of mode for these tracks,” Crowley told the board prior to Wednesday’s vote. “It is nothing like the current freight that runs on the tracks. It’s more like a bus, but traveling without the delays we have on our congested roads. Light rail cars are clean and would greatly improve the quality of life for the residents in Community Board 5.”

Currently the rail line is used to transport freight, creating a burden for the communities. Crowley warned that if something is not done with these tracks that would benefit the communities, the LIRR plans to increase the amount of freight traveling along the Montauk Line.

During a meeting with LIRR vice president, Crowley noted, the agency indicated it had “no intention of stopping the freight that is operating on the lower Montauk Line, but every intention of increasing that freight.”

The next step to bring the light rail plan to fruition would be to secure the funds to conduct a full engineering study, which would cost nearly $300,000, Crowley said. The lawmaker expects the full project to cost around $50 million.

Making Atlas Park the terminus of the proposed route raised concerns with some of the board members, contending that an Atlas Park hub would bring more cars into Glendale as potential users of the light rail would park in the shopping center’s parking lot.

Crowley, however, suggested Atlas Park would be the ideal place for a new commuter rail station in Glendale.

“The idea here is to get cars off the road so you would want to encourage people [to use the] three different buses that come into Atlas Park and right in the area, whether it’s the Q54, the Q47 or the Q29 [buses], which come from all different directions,” Crowley said. “A quick bus ride or a short walk to the light rail makes more sense than having to drive and pay for parking which can be very expensive.”

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