Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) and federal and city politicians last Thursday called on the MTA to conduct a feasibility study on utilizing the Rockaway Beach Rail Line and other rights-of-way in the five boroughs.
“There is no greater asset to our transit network than existing rights-of-way. With the Rockaway Beach Rail Line and the other underutilized rights-of-way throughout the city, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make lasting improvements to our transportation network and meet the demands of our growing populations,” Goldfeder said during a meeting of the City Council’s Committee on Transportation. “As Queens residents, we are not asking for more than others, but rather for a fair share, to give our families the opportunity to thrive and grow.”
Goldfeder was joined by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn), a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and a supporter of restoring the abandoned rail line.
“Restoration of the Rockaway Beach Line would not only provide much needed fast and efficient train service to the Rockaways and southern Queens but would enable a true one-seat ride to Kennedy Airport from Manhattan,” Nadler said in a statement.
Goldfeder was testifying in favor of a resolution proposed by committee Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan), which calls on the MTA to “conduct a comprehensive study of unused and underutilized railroad rights-of-way in New York City for the purpose of evaluating the feasibility of increased passenger service along such corridors.”
In a statement, Rodriguez indicated support for the Rockaway Beach Rail Line to be studied, among others in the city.
“With the MTA struggling for capital dollars for maintenance nonetheless expansion, it is incumbent on our city to evaluate the best and cheapest way to expand our public transit system: unused and lightly used rail,” he said. “Lines like the Rockaway Beach Line are ripe for development with minimal city and state funding, all we need to do is tap into these resources.”
During his testimony, Goldfeder pointed out the abandoned rail line would cost less to restore than the construction of the decades-in-the-making Second Avenue subway line.
“Phase I of the Second Avenue subway project will cost $4.45 billion to build less than 2 miles of track. By contrast, reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line could cost as little as $1 billion to create 3.5 miles of new train lines on the existing right-of-way,” the assemblyman said.