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Queens Chronicle

Restoring trains is the way to go for Queens

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Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:28 am, Thu Dec 12, 2013.

The right of way exists, the tracks exist, the infrastructure, although it needs work, still exists — if we want to improve Queens transportation and stimulate economic growth for future development of our borough, the complete restoration and rehabilitation of the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line is our best option.

Sandy revealed what our communities have known for too long: We need more transit options for our families in Queens. There is no better time than right now.

Last week I partnered with Queens College President James Muyskens and professor Leonard Rodberg to announce an objective and comprehensive study to determine the best options for the abandoned tracks. The Queens College Department of Urban Studies’ Office of Community Studies is renowned for its community-based research and as our neighbor their interest is in Queens and helping our city.

While other groups are assessing the feasibility of the rail line using tax dollars to hire expensive consultants and do one-sided studies, we are utilizing local expert resources and educating our students, all while supporting an objective study that will enormously benefit each Queens family.

The study will assess local transportation patterns and needs, as well as impact, cost, and feasibility for proposed uses of the abandoned rail line, and is expected to be completed as early as the end of next summer.

There are more than 2.3 million residents in Queens who would greatly benefit from the complete restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line. I am confident that any objective study will conclude that a transportation option is the only real choice. Local small business owners will tell you the current lack of public transit options in Queens is strangling their businesses and hurting our families.

Revitalizing the Rockaway Beach Rail Line would offer a permanent and viable transit solution for countless hardworking families all across Queens and provide them with safe, affordable and expedient access to other parts of the borough and a manageable commute to midtown Manhattan.

Last month, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority released its Twenty-Year Capital Needs Assessment, which included the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line as part of the agency’s plans for the future. The Capital Needs Assessment is a blueprint which details the MTA vision to repair, rebuild and expand the city’s transit infrastructure in the next 20 years. Restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line would be a realistic, efficient and inexpensive project that would significantly improve transit options for Queens residents while creating jobs and helping the environment.

Over the last two years our coalition has grown, and now that the MTA has signaled in its Twenty-Year Capital Needs Assessment Plan an interest in reactivating the line, it’s important we take the next appropriate steps to conduct an objective study.

We have made enormous leaps in making this dream become a reality. This week the New York Daily News enthusiastically agreed with thousands of Queens residents and my colleagues Congressmen Greg Meeks and Hakeem Jeffries that restoring the rail line for transportation would be the best use of the land.

We are on the right track, and I will continue to fight to reactivate the Rockaway Beach Rail Line and work with every community as well as my colleagues to ensure that Queens will finally receive the public transit we need and deserve.

Phillip Goldfeder is New York State Assemblyman for the 23rd District, in South Queens and the Rockaways.

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