2018-05-23 / Front Page

Queens RAIL And WAY Task Force Begins Work

Map by Vanshnookenraggen

MAP NOTES

• This map envisions a connection with the AirTrain in JFK Airport in the lower right-hand corner, running up to 63rd Drive in Rego Park and Queens Blvd., where it connects with the R line (yellow).

• A subway connection would provide a fast route (1/2 hour from JFK) to Grand Central Station.

• A special “fourth car” could be designed that would be compatible with the AirTrain, subway and LIRR system thus providing the elusive one-seat-ride to Midtown Manhattan. 

• Transfers to the subway’s A line would take place at Howard Beach.  The Rockaway Beach Branch was originally connected to the LIRR main line, just south of Queens Blvd. in Rego Park, still a possibility.

• The white line that parallels QueensRail 1/2 inch to the left is Woodhaven Blvd.

Map by Vanshnookenraggen MAP NOTES • This map envisions a connection with the AirTrain in JFK Airport in the lower right-hand corner, running up to 63rd Drive in Rego Park and Queens Blvd., where it connects with the R line (yellow). • A subway connection would provide a fast route (1/2 hour from JFK) to Grand Central Station. • A special “fourth car” could be designed that would be compatible with the AirTrain, subway and LIRR system thus providing the elusive one-seat-ride to Midtown Manhattan. • Transfers to the subway’s A line would take place at Howard Beach. The Rockaway Beach Branch was originally connected to the LIRR main line, just south of Queens Blvd. in Rego Park, still a possibility. • The white line that parallels QueensRail 1/2 inch to the left is Woodhaven Blvd. “Where there’s a RAIL there’s a WAY” is the tagline of the Queens RAIL and WAY Task Force, a newly formed, ad hoc group of community stakeholders who want to see the old Rockaway Beach Branch right-of-way (ROW) used to expand rail transportation AND provide more parkland.  The immediate goal of the Task Force is to work with the MTA and the Queens community to reestablish this time-saving rail link underneath the 3.5-mile ROW while utilizing the surface for a linear park such as the QueensWay.

The Task Force is focusing on the following goals:

1. Reduce transit time from JFK Airport to Midtown Manhattan from an hour to 30 minutes

2. Unite the Queens community around a plan that fully utilizes the right-of-way with a modern underground subway, from Atlantic Avenue to Queens Blvd., with a world-class park on top

3. Ensure the underground option and other community needs are included in the MTA feasibility study

4. Promote public-private partnerships and design-build methods for speed and efficiency

5. Calculate return-on-investment (ROI) for the combined project for the city and its people

“The borough of Queens and indeed all of New York City has one shot to work out the best Map by Eric Chase

MAP NOTES

• This rendering envisions a connection with the G line subway (green) at 63rd St. in Rego Park.

• Possible connections with the J and Z (brown) subway lines and with the Montauk Branch of the LIRR (not pictured).

• The line terminates at Howard Beach where connections can be made with the AirTrain for JFK Airport (not pictured) or with the A line (blue) subway going to the Rockaways.

• Travel time from midtown Manhattan to Rockaway Beach will be 45 minutes vs. 75+ minutes on A train.Map by Eric Chase MAP NOTES • This rendering envisions a connection with the G line subway (green) at 63rd St. in Rego Park. • Possible connections with the J and Z (brown) subway lines and with the Montauk Branch of the LIRR (not pictured). • The line terminates at Howard Beach where connections can be made with the AirTrain for JFK Airport (not pictured) or with the A line (blue) subway going to the Rockaways. • Travel time from midtown Manhattan to Rockaway Beach will be 45 minutes vs. 75+ minutes on A train.use of the long-neglected Rockaway Beach Branch ROW.  That’s why the Coalition for QueensRail is reaching out to The Friends of QueensWay, The Trust for Public Land, local businesses, community organizations, government agencies and elected officials to work together for the common good,” the organization stated in a press release. 

For years Queens has been unable to arrive at a consensus as to how to use this priceless asset.  Advocates for restoring rail service and those seeking to convert it to a park have passionately made their cases.  With no resolution in sight, the only reasonable path forward is to build both. Thankfully this is not only possible, but indeed the only way to fully utilize the right-of-way while addressing the needs of all constituents, the group asserted.

“The stakeholders we have talked to are excited about supporting this inclusive approach,” said Rick Horan, the Coalition for QueensRail’s Executive Director and Director of the Task Force.  “Rather than continuing to debate which idea makes more sense we would rather use our resources to advocate for both projects.”

“I applaud QueensRail for their persistence and hard work in advocating for transportation, and for organizing this important Task Force,” said NYS Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato (District 23). “Compromise and open communication are how we are going to make smart decisions, so we can invest in permanent transit infrastructure for our communities. The anticipated return on investment from this project makes it more expensive NOT to build.”

NYS Senator James Sanders (District 10) said, “Reconnecting south and central Queens with midtown will significantly expand employment, education and recreation opportunities for all New Yorkers, especially those living at the edge.  Safer, less congested roads, cleaner air and additional parkland makes this a no-brainer.”

NYS Senator Joseph Addabbo, (District 15) said, “I would like to thank the members of the Queens RAIL and WAY Task Force for coming together and working towards creating a solution on how to use the abandoned Rockaway Beach Line in a way that benefits both rail and park advocates. I look forward to working with the task force and all interested individuals to find the best way to move forward with this ambitious plan.”

Task Force invitations are being sent to elected officials, community organizations and government agencies as logistics are being worked out for the first meeting. Individuals interested in participating or receiving updates are encouraged to contact the Task Force at info@RAILandWAY.org.

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