2015-06-10 / Features

Ferry Service Will Change Astoria’s Future

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

After almost 80 years of commuting to Manhattan over or under water, ferry service is coming back to Astoria.

“Ferry service is going to be a game changer here in this neighborhood,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides at the 180-year old First Reformed Church of Astoria during a June 4 Town Hall meeting.

Dating back to the 1780s, ferry service in Astoria continued until the depot was closed after construction of the Triborough (now Robert F. Kennedy) Bridge in 1936. Now it is planned to return by 2017.

“We’re not talking 10 years from now or 25 years from now, we’re talking two years,” said Constantinides.

Constantinides and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) jointly hosted the Town Hall for a planned ferry dock to be located along the southern portion of Hallets Peninsula that is part of a $55 million expansion of a citywide ferry system to all five boroughs by 2018 announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio in his January State of the City address.

“A hundred years ago every road in this neighborhood led to the waterfront,” said Constantinides.

Although just 1,515 feet to Manhattan from Hallets Point, he noted it is otherwise the longest commute within District 22 to Manhattan.

Ferry service “will be a vital transportation option, [giving] the opportunity for someone to get on a ferry to Manhattan in a reasonable time – much like the N, R, and Q trains for the cost of a [$2.75 subway/ bus fare],” he said.

Ferry service from Astoria to Manhattan will take about 25 minutes. More than 90 percent of regular ferry riders will walk, bike or take transit to the ferry landing, said James Wong of the EDC. The dock is one mile from the Astoria Blvd. subway station but it is expected that residents living near the subway are unlikely to walk to the ferry. Instead, target ferry riders will be commuters who live walking distance from the dock and who ride the ferry to get to work during the week or for appointments during the weekend.

In addition, Wong said a very small number of people are expected to drive to the ferry and park their cars before boarding, although he acknowledged that parking is “a real concern” according to community surveys.

The proposed landing site is near the Astoria Houses and future residential developments at Hallets Point and Astoria Cove. Primary access is via 8th Street and Vernon Boulevard from points east and south, with additional access via 4th Street, 1st Street and Astoria Boulevard.

A 35-foot by 90-foot floating pier anchored by spud piles with gangways to support a front-loading ferry are planned by the engineering/consulting firm of Parsons Brinckherhoff along with a boathouse and kayak launch sites.

“We are at a turning point for Astoria,” said Constantinides in a press statement. “This ferry system will make western Astoria more interconnected with Manhattan, Brooklyn, and other parts of Queens. It will also be a sustainable and inclusive way to use our city’s greatest resource – our waterfront.”

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