To The Editor:
In recent months the Queens Tribune has published articles about the old Long Island Railroad Rockaway Beach line, inactive since 1962. Heavy traffic conditions daily on Woodhaven-Cross Bay Boulevards have prompted some to consider reactivating the line. Others have proposed turning the eyesore into a Queens Way park and bicycle path. A third option is to leave the unused tracks as they are.
Those whose property adjoins the tracks are opposed. I do sympathize with them to a degree, but there are other considerations that politicians, community boards, and residents must consider.
Anyone who travels on the boulevards daily knows the traffic conditions. The backup is horrendous, and it has been this way for decades. The combination Woodhaven-Cross Bay is the only north-south road from Queens Center south to the Belt Parkway. In 1962, there was no Queens Center, Aqueduct casino, as well as numerous schools and businesses and most of Howard Beach was not yet built. The populations of the neighborhoods along the route have grown dramatically, and today there are more multiple automobile families than in 1962. All of these have contributed to the immense traffic.
Those in the vicinity of the tracks are concerned about the noise and privacy issue. When moving there, they had to be aware that possibly someday the track line might be utilized again. We in Howard Beach live with planes flying just a few hundred feet over our homes. Residents on Woodhaven Boulevard tolerate traffic and vibrations, those near Aqueduct deal with crowds and the sounds of horses running, and some residents of Ozone Park have the A train travel right behind their homes. After a short time these conditions become a way of life and one learns to live with it.
Projections are that within the next decade or so New York City’s population will increase by one million. A portion of that will affect southern Queens. Along with proximity to JFK Airport, a casino at Aqueduct, and a vibrant shopping strip along Cross Bay Boulevard, the future traffic implications for southern Queens will be a nightmare. Unlike other parts of the city, there are very few traffic alternatives and choices here. A Queens Way will only produce more traffic. Reactivation of the LIRR line will not solve the traffic problem completely, but it is a partial solution.
I realize the concerns of those near the tracks, but the needs of all communities along the Woodhaven-Cross Bay corridor must be considered. Reactivation of the line will ease traffic, create jobs, and remove a deteriorated eyesore. Of the three options, it is the most viable and practical.