By Gabriel Rom

As debate continues over the future of the abandoned Rockaway Line, state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) is focusing on a smaller, more immediate concern: deteriorating stanchions.

Addabbo called on the MTA at a Tuesday news conference to repair the rusty beams holding up the old Long Island Rail Road track east of the intersection of Yellowstone Boulevard and Alderton Street at the Forest Hills-Rego Park border.

“Regardless of what project, if any, might eventually come to fruition at this site, this unused rail and its stanchions still sit in this community right now in an extremely poor condition that could potentially cause serious harm to countless people,” Addabbo said. “Before we can talk about turning this rail line into anything at all, it needs to be safe to the public.”

Addabbo said he reached out to the MTA and was assured that the agency would look into and repair the stanchions in question.

He knelt down and put his hand through a hole at the bottom of the stanchion. Addabbo noted that other locations along the line, at 93rd , 101st and 103rd avenues, are also in disrepair and threaten pedestrians who walk under the track.

“Aside from the structural integrity of these stanchions possibly being compromised, the rusty support beams create a public health issue and need to be addressed immediately,” Addabbo said.

While no time frame has yet been established for the repairs, Addabbo is pushing the MTA to address the problem next year.

“No matter what we do with this unused rail, the safety and structure stability has to be considered,” Addabbo said.

The Rockaway Line was fully decommissioned in 1962 and much of it has remained untouched for more than four decades. For many, the track has become, “a quiet, peaceful area,” Addabbo said.

But in recent months a number of uses have been floated to try and bring more transit options to central Queens or turn the line into an elevated garden.

State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach), with the support of U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), has proposed reactivating the line for commuter rail service.

State Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) proposes an express, or Select Bus Service, route along the abandoned rail line.

“I’m going to assume that any plan, whether it be the Queensway or SBS, will include a rehabilitation of the stanchions,” Addabbo concluded.

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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