Community Board 5 has become the third Queens community board to express interest in reviving the Rockaway Beach Rail Line, voting 36-2 with one abstention in favor of bringing back the rail line to the abandoned tracks.
The only dissenting members of CB 5 were Thomas Rossi and Mercy Wong, while Dorie Figliola abstained from voting.
Board Chairman Vincent Arcuri believes that reactivating the rail line to alleviate traffic on Woodhaven Boulevard would be the best course of action, as opposed to the QueensWay project.
That idea involves creating elevated park space on the abandoned railway, similar to the popular High Line park in Manhattan.
“Woodhaven Boulevard is just overwhelmed. We need relief and the only way to relieve traffic is with public transportation,” Arcuri said. “The people in the Rockaways have been clamoring for public transportation better than what they currently have for years. That A train is like going on a safari.”
Andrea Crawford, Community Board 9 first vice chairwoman and pro-QueensWay advocacy group Friends of QueensWay member, believes that CB 5’s vote in favor of bringing back trains to the line is “ridiculous” and “interesting” in addition to being completely unfeasible.
“This is a right of way that has absolutely no infrastructure and is deteriorating. The bridges would have to be rebuilt to carry modern train equipment,” Crawford said. “A rail line would help traffic in what, 20 or 30 years when it’s reactivated?”
Abandoned in 1962, the 3.5-mile stretch of railway between Rego Park and Ozone Park has been the topic of heated debate between those who want either parkland or a reactivation of the rail line.
CB 5 joins Community Board 10 and Community Board 14 in expressing interest in bringing back rail service to the abandoned line, while many CB 9 members believe that the QueensWay project is the best use of the tracks.