BY JON CRONIN
In an incredible boon to Southwest Queens transportation, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway) announced that the state Assembly’s 2016-2017 budget proposal will include language asking the Metropolitan Transit Authority to conduct a feasibility study of the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line that runs for four miles from the Rockaways through Forest Hills into Rego Park.
“With so many families in Queens suffering through some of the longest commutes in the city, it’s important that we explore every option to improve transportation. A feasibility study of reactivation the Rockaway Beach Rail Line will do just that. This study will provide us with an accurate picture of the state of the line and show not just what it would cost to reactivate, but also the impact this would have on thousands of commuters in the community,” said Goldfeder.
Goldfeder’s office noted that the text of the legislation justifies the funding for the study by stating that “constructing new mass transit routes and services reduces vehicle traffic and alleviates congestion.” The language also requires the MTA to complete the study before March 1, 2017 and submit it the both houses of the legislature.
The Assembly and the Senate have until April 1st to accept their budgets and Goldfeder is urging his Senate counterparts to include it as part of their’s.
The rail line was discontinued in 1962. Last year, Goldfeder wrote to the Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) asking for this study to be included in the state budget. His letter was co-signed by many colleagues and he kept the conversation alive in the Assembly over the past year.
Goldfeder is hoping for an evaluation of the current infrastructure of the railway as well as potential ridership, but also praising the news of the study, calling it “a step in the right direction for Queens families living in a so-called transportation desert.” Goldfeder hopes this will one day lead to his constituents have a one-seat commute from Manhattan to JFK.
“This is a huge step forward for families in southern Queens and the entire city who deserve transit equity,” said 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.”
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, email@example.com or @JonathanSCronin