The abandoned Long Island Rail Road tracks between Rego Park and the Rockaways have been in the news for several weeks.
But they have been on state Assemblyman Mike Miller’s radar considerably longer, and this week, Miller (D-Woodhaven) plans to lay out his ideas for reinstituting rail service for southeastern Queens.
He plans to release the information in a press conference on Friday with Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Beach).
“I had been working for a few months on a plan that would take people into lower Manhattan and connect with the E and F lines on Queens Boulevard,” Miller said in a recent telephone interview. “I’ve been working with transit experts. We could connect the areas of Ozone Park and Woodhaven. We could go up past Glendale using existing tracks that are just sitting there not being used.” He also said there could be an opportunity to expand AirTrain service.
The old Rockaway Beach branch was discontinued by the Long Island Rail Road in 1962. The tracks and the right of way now belong the city, though the stretch between Ozone Park and Rego Park is largely overgrown with trees and shrubs; the rail beds have eroded in many places; and in some places they no longer exist.
“Then people started to talk about a greenway,” Miller said. “It’s another use for unutilized tracks. It’s an option to look at.”
Then Gov. Cuomo in his State of the State Address in early January proposed building a large convention center at the site of Aqueduct Race Track and the new racino, which could create a need for more mass transit to and from the area.
Goldfeder then put out his own call to reinstate rail service to his native Rockaways.
“The tracks can be made viable again, and we could better connect with Manhattan in a more timely fashion that we now have,” Miller said.
He said more rail service also would remove traffic congestion on routes such as Woodhaven Boulevard.
Miller said he would prefer to see New York City Transit run any new lines as subway service rather than reinstate LIRR operations.