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Queens Chronicle

Rails and trails

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Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2014 10:30 am

Dear Editor:

I have been reading how the QueensWay versus the restoring the Rockaway Beach Line has turned out to be a fight of “trails versus rails.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, why not “trails with rails”? Rails can coexist synergistically with trails in the same corridor, with trains bringing people with their bikes and strollers to the trails and parks.

Case in point is Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, which has an extensive trails system beside and under the city’s expanding and mostly elevated rail rapid transit system, linking parks, other destinations, and communities. One of those trail routes uses the roadbed of an old interurban commuter rail line with the rapid transit line built above it. There are other trails that avoid the rail routes where it is not practical to follow them,

Those who have visited Vancouver, as many did four years ago during the Winter Olympics, may have seen the trails while riding on the trains. Vancouverites treasure their biking, walking, and transit very passionately, along with their concern for the environment, scenery, views and quality of life. I can attest to that, and to the trails with rails network, from having lived in the area for several years.

In applying Vancouver’s example to the RBL, couldn’t the MTA and/or the city study the feasibility, costs and benefits of replacing the old and controversial berm with a similar elevated deck for the trains and placing the trails below? And where there are major roadways, like Atlantic Avenue and Union Turnpike, to put the trail on separate bridges?

What does New York have to lose by investigating trails with rails for the RBL?

Brendan Read
Belmar, NJ

Welcome to the discussion.