Queens councilman calls for MTA to study the proposed Triboro rail line that would connect borough with Brooklyn and the Bronx

Max Parrott/QNS

Councilman Costa Constantinides sent a letter to the MTA’s Chairman and CEO Patrick J. Foye and President Andy Byford in support of a MTA-commissioned feasibility study for the proposed Triboro rail line.

The Triboro line was introduced by the Regional Plan Association’s (RPA) almost 25 years ago as an above-ground rail route that stretches 24 miles along existing rail lines from Co-op City in the Bronx through Queens to Brooklyn.

The plan regained attention on June 2019 when Assemblywoman Latrice Walker introduced a bill to have the MTA conduct a feasibility study of the Triboro rail line. Now, Constantinides, who is running for Queens Borough President, is weighing in.

“I add my voice to support the call for a formal MTA-commissioned study that will analyze the technical feasibility of the Triboro line, along with ridership forecasts and price estimates,” Constantinides wrote in his letter. “My hope is that such a study will take this proposal from a schematic vision to a tactical plan to move forward with.”

According to the RPA, the Triboro line would address the MTA’s Manhattan-centric transportation system and the transit deserts in the outer boroughs. They cited job creation as one reason people need more access between the outer boroughs, since they found that more than “50 percent of New York’s job growth in the last 15 years has occurred outside of Manhattan.”

The Triboro line would have 22 stations starting from Co-op City in the Bronx, connecting to neighborhoods like Astoria, Jackson Heights and Middle Village in Queens and East New York and Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. The line would also provide transfers to 17 subway lines and four commuter rail lines.

They estimate the north-south rail line would cost $1 to $2 billion to construct. By using existing rail right-of-way in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn, the RPA found the Triboro line could be “built faster” and would be more cost-effective than other transit projects in the region.

The rail right-of-way tracks the RPA is suggesting for the Triboro line are owned by Amtrak in the Bronx into Queens, and by CSX Transportation, “the freight provider from northern Queens to Fresh Pond Junction and LIRR to the south of Fresh Pond to 65th Street Yard in Brooklyn.”

In his letter, Constantinides added that Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber penned a letter to the City Council that stated a study of the Triboro line would begin by the end of 2019. He is now seeking information about that study and a date for when it will be complete.

In response to Constantinides’ letter, the MTA told QNS, “MTA Construction & Development has selected an engineering firm to study the feasibility of using the Bay Ridge Branch for passenger service and will have more information in the future.”

A source familiar with the planning told QNS that AECOM is the firm conducting the feasibility study.

Constantinides, who has said he wants to establish more direct communication between residents and the MTA if elected Queens Borough President, added that it’s “imperative” that they all work together to “enhance and expand our transit network” to properly “address the climate crisis, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, and save our planet.”