Borough President Melinda Katz asked the MTA to study a route that would expand Crowley’s proposal to Jamaica.
BY JON CRONIN
The light rail proposal by Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D- Glendale) that would connect Glendale’s Shops at Atlas Park and Long Island City, has received an endorsement from Borough President Melinda Katz.
In a letter to Tom Prendergast, chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, Katz wrote that she favors the reactivation of the Long Island Railroad’s Lower Montauk Branch from Jamaica to Long Island City, an expansion from Crowley’s proposal, which would end in Glendale. The LIRR line which began in the 1850s and closed after consistent diminishing use in 1998 has only been used for carrying freight through the community. Katz stated, “Queens has seen much growth since the closing of the line and transit options for many are few and far between.”
Katz would like the MTA to consider this rail plan part of a new Master Plan of a regional rail system in Queens.
Katz noted, “The communities are in need of better east-west transportation options to serve our residential and business communities. This concept should include passenger stations at appropriately determined facilities such the Jamaica LIRR Station, Atlas Park Mall, The M train Metrolpolitan Avenue/Fresh Pond Road Bridge, Flushing Avenue, where a future connection could be made to the Bushwick Branch of the LIRR, and Hunters Point Terminal in Long Island City. “
The borough president encouraged Prendergast to begin a travel demand study to determine ridership levels and asked that they use the Regional Transit Forecast Model and analyze how this implementation would affect the overcrowding over existing lines servicing Jamaica and Long Island City. This is an MTA demand forecasting model that incorporates existing New York City transit subways and buses and considers regional rail capacity. It looks at potential riders while determining if they are current drivers, commuters on subway, bus, LIRR, or cyclists, and how the return of MTA service along the line would affect those existing transit modes.
Crowley was pleased with the endorsement, “The population in Queens is exploding, and it’s critical we take measures to get more cars off the street, ease the burden of commuting and provide the opportunity for greater economic growth. I thank the Borough President for recognizing this, and am grateful for her support of my light rail proposal.”
Salvatore Arena, a spokesperson for the MTA, stated, “At the time her proposal was unveiled, we said: ‘The Council Member has spoken with us about her proposal and there are several obvious hurdles that need to be addressed – not the least of which are cost and geography.’ That is still our position.”
Crowley will be meeting with the MTA on Friday, March 11 as part of their on-going discussions about the project.
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin