The money would buy the city three ferries to transport the largely isolated Rockaway commuters to Lower Manhattan with stops in Brooklyn. The U.S. Senate must still vote on the measure."The biggest single obstacle to ferry service in Rockaway or Brooklyn ... has been the high capital cost of the boats themselves," Weiner said. "These federal dollars will be a boon for commuters and, as importantly, will start us on a path toward wider ferry service and less traffic."The funding, which would include a 20 percent match from the city, follows a four-year $1.7 million investment in building a ferry landing at the peninsula's Fort Tilden Coast Guard station, just west of the Marine Parkway Bridge.The waterway service would offer a 25-minute ride to the more than 100,000 Rockaway residents who now depend on slower buses, hour-long subway trips and the congested Belt Parkway for their commute, according to Weiner.Weiner's allocation, along with the overall $284 billion bill, awaits a nod from President George W. Bush if the Senate passes it.U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) announced a separate transportation funding project Monday that will go toward easing traffic buildup along the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway at Roosevelt Avenue and Broadway in Jackson Heights. The $640,000 proposal, which also falls into the federal transportation bill, will focus on improving the major Queens hub, which transfers about 40,000 local commuters to East Elmhurst, Steinway, Astoria and LaGuardia Airport daily, said Crowley. He said the project would also provide much-needed jobs, attract more visitors and enhance the general quality of life."This funding is a huge victory for the residents of Jackson Heights and the entire Queens County," said Crowley, who was joined Monday by Borough President Helen Marshall and Councilwoman Helen Sears (D-Jackson Heights). "A viable Queens is a good investment for the entire city."Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@times
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