BY JON CRONIN, Editor
The city Department of Transportation and engineering firm AECOM presented preliminary findings on a potential 8.5-mile light rail from Jamaica to Long Island City, which could be in service by 2025.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale), who proposed the idea, said that she believed the project would provide a valuable service for borough residents.
“I wouldn’t push this idea if it didn’t benefit everybody,” she said.
The light rail will run on the lower Montauk line, which was once a Long Island Rail Road line until 1998, but was closed due to inactivity. Today, it is used only for overnight freight runs.
Aaron Sugiura, a director of transit policy and planning at the DOT, said they are only half-way through their study. He noted that the two-track corridor may have to be updated in some track sections as it is possible some areas may be too close to buildings or the tracks may be too close to each other. The agency would also have to make sure that there is room for freight to run simultaneously on the opposite tracks.
Sugiura explained that there are seven types of trains that could be used on that type of track, but the preliminary recommendation is a diesel multiple unit, which would have self-propelled cars—rather than pulled by a locomotive. It would also prevent the need to electrify the tracks as well as have fewer environmental impacts than traditional diesel locomotives and lower sound levels than regular diesel.
William Crowell, vice president of AECOM and Sugiura, was on-hand to answer the technical aspects of the study, but local residents were interested in information that they had yet to study.
One resident said that this rail line would run through his backyard and wondered what the vibration level would be. Crowell and Sugiura didn’t have an answer for him.
Crowell said, “It’s like a bus.” The homeowner shot back, “It’s not like a bus,” adding that even if it were, he wouldn’t want that many buses passes through his backyard. Sugiura said that the vibration measure would be added to the study.
Lisa Bloodgood, a member of the Newtown Creek Alliance, said the bridge that the light rail would utilize is no longer in good repair. Crowell agreed and said that if this project moves forward, a new bridge crossing the creek would have to be built.
Another resident asked if the parking issue that would be created on residential streets by the transit system had been considered. Crowell said that, so far, it had not been considered, but it would most likely have to be “a kiss and ride” situation in which commuters were dropped off or bused in.
John Maier, a Community Board 5 member, suggested that during the study, the board should receive input from the Regional Plan Association, which has proposed a tri-boro transit system that does not involve Manhattan. Maier said that this rail line intersects and the two together could provide a system that provides transit to growing areas of Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.
The study has yet to find solutions for the 11 at-grade crossings in the community.
AECOM and DOT’s presentation can be found here.
Reach Jon Cronin, at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.