2016-03-23 / Front Page

Goldfeder Secures Millions In Funding For Rockaway Beach Rail Line Study

In a major victory for transit-starved communities in Queens, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D - Ozone Park) today announced that this year's budget proposal submitted by the New York State Assembly will include funds for a feasibility study of reactivating the old Rockaway Beach Rail Line.In a major victory for transit-starved communities in Queens, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D - Ozone Park) today announced that this year's budget proposal submitted by the New York State Assembly will include funds for a feasibility study of reactivating the old Rockaway Beach Rail Line.In a major victory for transit-starved communities in Queens, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder announced that this year's budget proposal submitted by the New York State Assembly will include funds for a feasibility study of reactivating the old Rockaway Beach Rail Line.

"With so many families in Queens suffering through some of the longest commutes in the city, it's important that we explore every option to improve transportation. A feasibility study of reactivation the Rockaway Beach Rail Line will do just that. This study will provide us with an accurate picture of the state of the line and show not just what it would cost to reactivate, but also the impact this would have on thousands of commuters in the community," said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. "I want to thank Speaker Heastie for making our families' transit needs a priority and ensuring that a fair and comprehensive study of Rockaway Beach Rail Line has a place in our state budget."

This week, the Assembly released its one-house budget proposal for the 2016-2017 state budget. The proposal includes language directing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study of the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line. According to the text, the legislature justifies the appropriation on the grounds that "constructing new mass transit routes and services reduces vehicle traffic and alleviates congestion." The MTA would be required to complete the study and submit it to the governor and the leaders in both houses of the legislature no later than March 1, 2017.

The appropriation for the rail line study falls under Article VII bills intended to compliment the budget proposal issued by the governor earlier this year. The study was included in Bill A9008-B, which outlines the Assembly's proposed expenditures relating to transportation, economic development and environmental conservation. The Assembly and the Senate have until April 1st to agree on their respective one-house budget proposals. With the study now included on the Assembly side, Goldfeder is urging colleagues in the Senate to ensure its inclusion in the state's final budget.

News of the study's inclusion marks a major victory in the efforts by Assemblyman Goldfeder to reactivate the line, which until 1962 connected Rockaway and southern Queens with Rego Park and the rest of the city on the Long Island Rail Road. Last year, Goldfeder sent a letter to Speaker Heastie calling for the feasibility study to be included in the state budget. That letter was co-signed by a majority of the Assembly Queens delegation. Goldfeder continued to make the case for the study during the current legislative session, both again in writing and through extensive back-and-forth conversations with Speaker Heastie and his staff.

With the study, Goldfeder expects the MTA to assess the current condition of infrastructure along the 4-mile right-of-way, as well as the full cost of reactivating the line for passenger service. Goldfeder also hopes that the study will weigh in on the benefits of reactivation, including potential ridership and the economic benefits to surrounding communities. For now, regardless of its findings, Goldfeder is praising the proposed study as step in the right direction for Queens families living in so-called transportation deserts, as well as efforts to bring one-seat commutes from Manhattan to JFK airport.

"This is a huge step forward for families in southern Queens and the entire city who deserve transit equity," concluded Goldfeder. "For too long, we have let this valuable right-of-way remain unused and abandoned. This new MTA study will confirm that full restoration of the line is the most cost effective and environmentally sound way to ease congestion on our roadways, connect Queens neighborhoods and improve commutes for every New York City family."

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