Photo by Michael Shain
The Lower Montauk Line at the 88th Street at-grade crossing (TimesLedger/file photo)
By Gabriel Rom

Community Board 5 has voted to support Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s (D-Glendale) proposed commuter-rail plan from Glendale to Long Island City.

The vote, which ended up 36 in support, six against and one abstention, came on the heels of CB 5’s Transportation and Public Transit committees narrowly recommending the proposal last week, 7 to 5.

The recommendation makes CB 5 the first community board in the county to support commuter rail.

“This commuter-rail line should be considered a part of a master plan for a new commuter rail system for the residents of Queens County,” CB 5’s recommendation read. “[The concept] would connect the Jamaica LIRR Station to the Hunters Point Terminal in Long Island City.”

The resolution noted that the proposal could be part of a larger plan with additional phases, including the reactivation of the old Rockaway Branch of the LIRR, reactivation of the Bushwick Branch of the LIRR, connection to the LIRR’s East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal, or the LIRR’s existing Penn Station Access.

“I believe when the plan was originally proposed it was stand-alone,” said CB 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri. “I think the Councilwoman understands that we would like a comprehensive plan, but she wants one portion ticked off,” he added. “We’re excited about it. But there are still a lot of questions.”

Crowley hopes to establish a rail commuter service line on the LIRR Lower Montauk line, which carried passenger service until the late 1990s and is currently lightly used to transport freight.

“Light rail in this community could change the way we all work, where we eat, the way we play and more,” Crowley said at the CB 5 meeting.

The plan would create new passenger stations at the Atlas Park Mall in Glendale, the M train station at Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, the abandoned Fresh Pond Road station beneath the Metropolitan Avenue overpass, Flushing Avenue in Maspeth and the Hunters Point Terminal in Long Island City.

“We have an elected official who has spoken to agencies trying to get resources invested in a part of the city that doesn’t have many resources for mass transit,” said Toby Sheppard Bloch, a CB 5 member who lives more than a mile from the nearest subway station. “It seems like a slam dunk.”

The plan, however, has its skeptics.

Bob Holden, a committee member, said the plan would only be feasible if it went to Jamaica and was connected to the Rockaway Line, which he said would alleviate many commuting problems on Woodhaven Boulevard.

“They need a transportation master plan,” he said. “The plan is not really a plan yet, it’s just an idea.”

Crowley anticipates each rail car will cost about $3 million. The tracks and the right-of-way—two of the most expensive pieces—have been secured for the future project, according to a Crowley spokeswoman.

According to a Crowley spokeswoman, the next step of the process is to secure funds for a feasibility study. No timeline has been released.

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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