BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
At last week’s Community Board 6 meeting, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Glendale) presented her proposal for a light rail, which she announced has now expanded and will take up a portion of the Long Island Rail Road track between Jamaica and Long Island City.
After meeting with several borough presidents and community members, Crowley decided to expand the study to Jamaica.
“The sentiment was there,” Crowley told the Queens Tribune. “Half the people, who live in Queens, work in Queens and spend about 40 minutes-a-day getting to work.”
According to Crowley, the majority of Queens workers rely heavily on the east and west bound 7 and E trains, which have become ‘completely congested’ due to the increase in population.
“I care deeply about the communities I represent and I want for each and every one of my constituents to have the best quality of life they can possibly have,” Crowley said.
She is proposing that the city do a comprehensive study on what it would take to get this rail back up and running for commuters.
“The first step is undergoing the zoning process to see what the capacity is for the businesses that already occupy the property, along with how many more square feet of space can be generated,” Crowley said.
According to Crowley, this area doesn’t have good transportation and the light rail study can maximize the growth, along with the corridor.
“There’s a demand in this city for commercial industrial space that’s close to transportation,” she said. “We can provide greater opportunities for development and more opportunities for people to get around the borough.”
The study can show how much commute time would be or would not be reduced.
“When you ask people what’s important to them, other than education and affordable housing, the next thing they might say is that they are wasting a lot of time during the day getting to and from work,” Crowley said. “In order to change that, we need to expand our public transportation. The Queens population is increasing more and more and it’s becoming difficult because of how many cars are on the road causing congestion. I think this is a win-win type of project.”
What is currently the freight train line, will run north of the Newtown Creek and through Maspeth, Ridgewood, Glendale, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill.
Of the community boards that she had already met with, Crowley said she has received good feedback and support and will continue to finish the tour as she continues to gain more grassroot supporters.
“I am in support of the light rail study for obvious reasons, it helps a lot of people who live in areas without transportation,” said Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills). “Crowley has been working extremely hard for this project for quite some time and I will continue to support her.”
Earlier this month, Crowley wrote a letter to the city’s Department of Transportation, asking for the funds for the light rail study, which the entire Queens City Council delegation signed.
In the letter, Crowley wrote that the current travel conditions are inconvenient and difficult for residents and that it’s “vital we take advantage of any opportunity to life this burden.”
Back in March, Crowley received the endorsement from Borough President Melinda Katz, whom wrote a letter to the Metropolitan Transit Authority fully in support of the proposal.
Earlier this week, the Fiscal Year 2017 budget was released, in which Mayor Bill de Blasio, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Finance Chair, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland allocated $500,000 to Crowley’s light rail study.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144 or firstname.lastname@example.org