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Queens Chronicle

The ferry may be stopping in Astoria

Sen. Charles Schumer proposes five more East River stations

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Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 10:33 am, Thu Apr 11, 2013.

A new proposal would add a second Queens stop to the popular East River Ferry route.

On Monday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) called on the Federal Highway Administration and the New York State Department of Transportation to add five more stops on the East River Ferry, including one in Hallets Point, Astoria, where developers have proposed two 2,000-unit complexes to open in 2015.

“It is unacceptable that Queens has only one ferry stop — our borough deserves and needs better,” Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D- Astoria) said. “With a lack of public transportation as it is, and a new housing development possibly on the way, Hallets Point is an ideal location for a ferry stop.”

The other Queens stop is in the most southwestern section of Long Island City.

Politicians have been pushing for infrastructure like public transportation for the area before Alma Realty and Lincoln Equities build their proposed residential buildings. Neither project has been approved by the City Council yet. Advocates also want a park and a school for the area, which abuts the Astoria Houses.

Other proposed new landings are at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, two stops on the Upper East Side and one on Roosevelt Island to accommodate the new Cornell-NYC’s applied science campus.

The campus is expected to add more than 800 residents and 1,300 students and employees to the island in 2018, according to the senator.

Schumer is urging the FHWA and the NYSDOT to fund the project through the new competitive Strategic Transportation Enhancements Program. A spokesman with the state DOT said they are looking at all projects for STEP that balance infrastructure with transportation and support job creation and economic growth.

“The East River Ferry expansion project can become a ‘Nerd Boat’ that connects our rapidly-expanding tech hubs, like Dumbo and the Brooklyn Navy yard, with the new Cornell-NYC’s Applied Science Campus,” said Schumer. “It will also maximize ferry-use throughout the city and better connect these waterfront neighborhoods to public transportation, benefitting the local economy and that’s why projects like this should be considered for STEP funding.”

The city launched its three-year ferry pilot program in June 2011, with the BillyBey Ferry Company contracted through June 2014 as the operator.

Since then about 2 million passengers have used the service, surpassing the initial projection of 1.3 million riders for the entire three-year test period, Mayor Bloomberg said in December.

Those figures break down to about 90,000 people a month. The city requested applications in January for a company to operate the ferry for five years beginning in June.

The new application for the East River Ferry Expansion project is being submitted by the New York City Economic Development Corporation and will include four flex barge landings to provide the city with emergency transportation infrastructure in the event of a future storm, something many politicians advocated for post-Sandy, or an event that affects the regular transit system.

In times of emergency, the landings can be sent to the areas in need of immediate transit options such as the Rockaways or the South Shore of Staten Island, Schumer said.

When not needed for emergencies, ferry landings are proposed for full-time use in neighborhoods with existing demand to support ferry service.

Welcome to the discussion.