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The plan, referred to as the 63rd Street Connection, dates back to the 1960s, said Joe Raskin, the Transit Authority's community liaison.
But in mid-January the new service will be launched on weekends to ease straphangers' woes during construction in the subway system. The official opening will take place Sept. 1, 2001, when the complete new schedule for rerouted service on the E, F and G lines takes effect. A V line also will be created.
"I want to make sure that the people of Queens aren't taking on the burden of something that's good for the Transit Authority," City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) told the Transit representatives, Joe Raskin and Glenn Lunden, at the Dec. 27 meeting. Koslowitz expressed concern that residents instead of seeing improved service would find themselves left "on a slow boat to China."
But Raskin said "it's certainly not for our convenience" as about 20 members of the community listened intently.
The Transit Authority expects the 63rd Street Connection to ease commuter traffic by redistributing express service. The most significant shift would be the rerouting of the F train, which would be redirected under the East River through the 63rd Street tunnel instead of the 53rd Street tunnel. From the Queens Plaza station, the F train would head into Queensbridge, Roosevelt Island and Lexington Avenue at 63rd Street in Manhattan.
The E and R trains would continue on their existing tracks, the E along 53rd Street and the R along 60th street.
Overall, Lunden said he expects the trip into Manhattan to be quicker because he anticipates briefer station stops "to the tune of a minute or two" since the ridership from the stations would be thinner due to redistribution of the passengers.
Other proposed changes include the new local V train, which would run from the 71st Street Continental Avenue station along Queens Boulevard, through Queens Plaza and along the old F train's 53rd Street tunnel, down 6th Avenue and terminate at Second Avenue, according to Transit spokeswoman Melissa Farley.
The G train will be eliminated from its Queens Boulevard stretch. With the new rerouting, the train would begin at Court Square in Long Island City and continue into Brooklyn. The Authority said the route is actually shorter, but a transfer at Court Square would be necessary for Brooklyn-bound travelers.
"The G train service, in effect, is a bus in Queens," Raskin told the community board members, noting that most riders now merely use it as a shuttle along Queens Boulevard, leaving it empty for its final stretch into Brooklyn.
"The G train has to be the sacrificial lamb," he said. "I use that term perhaps inadvisably."
Board members argued it was the G train riders who were, in fact, the lambs sacrificed, noting that many students of Brooklyn Tech High School will now be inconvenienced.
Al O'Leary, spokesman for the Transit Authority, said the plans are still subject to the public hearing process. A hearing will be held Jan. 23 at New Long Island City High School at 1430 Broadway.
"The plan we've put out is what we believe is the best plan to serve the community," O'Leary said. "It's not written in stone. We'll have to wait and see what the public hearing brings."
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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