By Gabriel Rom
State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) announced last week that the 2016-2017 state Assembly’s budget includes a proposal to fund a feasibility study for the Long Island Rail Road’s old Rockaway Beach Rail Line.
The proposal, if adopted by the state Senate, would constitute the first guaranteed funding to go toward evaluating the much-discussed rail line.
Goldfeder touted the funding as a “huge step” in the fight to reactivate the line.
He said the proposal directs the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study of the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line.
The study requires that the MTA complete a comprehensive feasibility study and submit it to the governor and the leaders in both houses of the Legislature no later than March 1, 2017.
The Assembly and the Senate have until April 1to agree on their respective one-house budget proposals. With the study now included on the Assembly side, Goldfeder is urging colleagues in the Senate to ensure its inclusion in the state’s final budget.
“This is a huge step forward for families in southern Queens and the entire city who deserve transit equity,” concluded Goldfeder. “For too long, we have let this valuable right-of-way remain unused and abandoned. This new MTA 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.”
Last year, Goldfeder sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) calling for the feasibility study to be included in the state budget. That letter was co-signed by a majority of the Queens Assembly delegation.
At a Council hearing in November, Goldfeder made a similar argument in favor of reactivating the Rockaway Branch Line. He said that plan would cost almost $2.5 billion less than Phase One of the Second Avenue Subway and would provide more than twice the amount of track.
Goldfeder spoke wistfully of the days when the Rockaway Line provided a 30-minute, single-seat ride to Midtown Manhattan.
“To this day,” Goldfeder said, “many of my older constituents, when I see them at rallies, will come up to me and tell me stories of their childhood and how they remember utilizing that line.”
The Rockaway Line was fully decommissioned in 1962 and much of it has remained untouched for more than four decades.
U.S. Rep Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, also advocated for the line’s reactivation at the council hearing.
“A major mistake was made 40 years ago. They should have reactivated it then,” Nadler said.
Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@