2017-07-26 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

LIRR Resume Vs Light Rail

To The Editor:

There is more to “DOT Releases Study On Lower Montauk Branch Rail Study” (Thomas Cogan, July 19) concerning introduction of a light rail train on portions of the old Long Island Rail Road Montauk branch (Long Island City to Jamaica). The draft study still has many answered questions. As always, the devil is in the details. Who will come up $99.5 million or more to pay for the balance of project costs?

Even with a planning feasibility study, millions more will be needed to pay for environmental documents along with preliminary design and engineering followed by final design and engineering efforts necessary to validate any basic estimates for construction costs. Ms. Crowley’s belief that it would be under $100 million doesn’t add up. New Jersey Transit’s Hudson Bergen Light Rail cost $1.2 billion and Newark Elizabeth Light Rail cost $694 million 16 years ago. Clearly, costs would be far greater in today’s dollars.

There are no dollars programmed to support any work for advancement of this project contained with the approved MTA’s $29 billion Five Year 2015 - 2019 Five Year Capital Plan. Ditto for the MTA 2014 - 2034 Twenty Year Capital Needs Assessment Plan.

Cost estimates would have to be refined as progress proceeds beyond the planning and environmental phases into real and final design efforts. History has shown that estimated costs for construction usually trend upwards as projects mature toward 100% final design. Progression of final design refines the detailed scope of work necessary to support construction. The anticipated final potential cost would never be known until completion. Costs would be further refined by award of construction contracts followed by any unforeseen site conditions and change orders to the base contracts during the course of construction.

The proposed route will traverse several neighborhoods impacting thousands of people living nearby. How will they react to potential noise and visual impacts? There are serious legal and operational issues to be resolved with the Federal Rail Road Administration. They have regulatory jurisdiction over significant portions of the proposed route, which would run on existing active freight tracks. You have to deal with light rail and freight trains coexisting on the same narrow corridor. There is no available project budget to justify key project component costs. They would have to cover a series of new stations. These will have to meet the Americans Disability Act (ADA) access standards; grade crossing, signal and safety improvements, a fleet of new light rail vehicles, land acquisition, potential business relocation, along with construction of a new maintenance, operations and storage yard to support any light rail car fleet. Which neighborhood will want to step forward and host the maintenance, operations, and storage yard? Other Queens elected officials, transit riders and transit advocacy groups all have their own transportation priority projects which may conflict with this proposal.

The MTA NYC Transit in 1983 conducted the Queens Subway Options feasibility study for potential conversation of this LIRR branch to a subway on the ground. Intensely vocal local community opposition killed this project before it progressed beyond a planning study. The same community opposition has already begun for introduction of any active light rail as well.

You would have to wait for approval of MTA’s next Five Year 2020 - 2024 Capital Program for any chance of MTA funding. The alternative would be 100% NYC funding which is very doubtful.

Rather than spend several hundred million dollars to build a light rail system, which could take a decade or more, why not ask the LIRR to resume service on this corridor? They could run a two-car scoot service reconnecting Long Island City, Glendale and Middle Village with other communities, including Richmond Hill and other intermediate stops to Jamaica. The LIRR could use existing equipment, which would afford far earlier implementation of service, versus light rail. This would provide connections eastbound to the J/Z and E subway lines, Kennedy Airport via Train to Plane, and Jamaica LIRR Station. Queens residents traveling to jobs and colleges in Nassau and Suffolk counties would have access to all LIRR branches except the Port Washington line. Ditto for those traveling to the Barclay’s Center and downtown Brooklyn via the LIRR Atlantic Avenue branch. There would also be connections westbound at either Hunters Point or Long Island City LIRR stations to the no. 7 subway line.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Excellent Resource Fair

To The Editor:

On July 18, I attended the Community Resource Fair at Queens Borough Hall sponsored by Mayor de Blasio and Borough President Katz. It was excellent! There must have been 30 or more city agencies represented there. They had tables set up for each agency and people could go from table to table and actually speak to agency commissioners or representatives regarding concerns and issues that they had. Although 311 is a great resource for residents to communicate with city agencies, there is nothing like dealing with a real person who has a face and a name and contact information associated with a particular agency. At the fair, each table also featured lots of handouts describing the work that each agency does.

I would encourage the Mayor and the Borough President to hold these resource fairs more often during the year. Perhaps one could be scheduled for evening hours and/or on a weekend day, so that people with 9-to-5 weekday jobs could attend as well.

At the fair, I spoke to Parks Commissioner Silver and representatives from the Parks Department regarding the need for a meeting with the Design Commission in connection with a fitting memorial stone at the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground, the Department of Education regarding the need to return PS 130 for use by local children living near the school, Commissioner Lee of the Buildings Department regarding the problem of illegal conversions in our communities, the Finance Department regarding the problem of higher real estate taxes, the Transportation Department regarding various roadway conditions and several other agencies about matters that were of concern to my community of Bayside-Auburndale and my civic organization, the Auburndale Improvement Association. I plan on following up with each agency to make sure that those issues of concern are further addressed. They may not get totally resolved, but at least they will continue to be on the radar of these particular agencies.

I was impressed with all of the agencies that we have here in the City of New York and all of the help and information available. From health issues to veterans’ concerns, from housing matters to help for seniors and people with disabilities, we are truly an incredible city. We should all take advantage of these resources as we need them. As taxpayers, we all pay for these city services and we should not be afraid to ask for help. Working with our community boards, our civic organizations and community groups like the Queens Civic Congress, as well as the city agencies, there is help available to address any problem that one encounters.

Often our borough of Queens seems to be ignored, along with the other non- Manhattan boroughs. Those four boroughs are often referred to as the “outer boroughs” by our governmental representatives and those in the media. We are not “outer” anything. We are all part of the City of New York and should be treated with the same dignity and respect as our friends and neighbors in Manhattan.

The Community Resource Fair that was held at Borough Hall really made me feel that Queens was a true partner in the functioning of our city.

Henry Euler
Bayside

Prepare To Vote Now

To The Editor:

There must be a law that prohibits eating in the subway of any food, or drinking of any beverage. There was a track fire and someone spilled Chinese food in the train. If someone eats, that person must be fined. There are too many train derailments and trains being stuck in the tunnel, having riders suffer in the heat and dangerous situations. Something must be done – it is a crisis and urgent.

I am pleased that a new health center will be in Flushing, and it is high time that this occurs. Also, I am glad that affordable housing will be part of the Tree of Life Center.

There is too much nonsense with the Affordable Care Act going on, and too much bickering, too much tweeting, while nothing constructive going on. To end Obamacare and have nothing in its place will ruin the health of those who the act helped.

I am proud of Queens for having the finest health care and fitness centers available. Health and fitness are important factors to promoting quality of life, which is good.

I am also appalled at the real estate agent who scammed people, and am glad that she will pay back the money owed those she stole from.

I am in favor of the expansion of urban agriculture, which is good for the environment, prevents climate change and teaches children and urban people about food and is important. I also am glad that a union opened up a free health clinic in Brooklyn. This sets a good example for all unions to follow, since working people are in need of health care that is free and affordable. O.J. Simpson should have not been paroled. Just because he was a famous football star does not make him privileged and deserving of special treatment.

The 2018 state campaign for governor and legislature really will be a hot race, so we must know the issues listen to the debates read the newspapers and vote for the issues that affect us positively. We must not vote for personality of candidates, but what they can do for us. We have power at the ballot box, as you know.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Avoid Deserted Areas

To The Editor:

The two recent incidents in Queens, in which two young women were attacked and sexually assaulted in Kissena and Colden Parks should be wake up call to everyone not to be walking in the parks after dusk for their own safety. There are signs all over our parks advising people that the parks close at dusk and that nobody should be in them after dark. Fortunately, the police nailed this animal who did this to these two women. Why is anyone, especially young women, out walking in the park after dark? Follow the guidelines and leave the parks after dusk.

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

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