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Goldfeder proposes feasibility study for Rockaway Beach Rail Line

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach) announced last week a house budget proposal to fund a feasibility study for the Rockaway Beach Rail Line.
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State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) announced last week that the 2016-2017 state Assembly’s budget includes a proposal to fund a feasibility study for the Long Island Rail Road’s old Rockaway Beach Rail Line.

The proposal, if adopted by the state Senate, would constitute the first guaranteed funding to go toward evaluating the much-discussed rail line.

Goldfeder touted the funding as a “huge step” in the fight to reactivate the line.

He said the proposal directs the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study of the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line.

The study requires that the MTA complete a comprehensive feasibility study and submit it to the governor and the leaders in both houses of the Legislature no later than March 1, 2017.

The Assembly and the Senate have until April 1to agree on their respective one-house budget proposals. With the study now included on the Assembly side, Goldfeder is urging colleagues in the Senate to ensure its inclusion in the state’s final budget.

“This is a huge step forward for families in southern Queens and the entire city who deserve transit equity,” concluded Goldfeder. “For too long, we have let this valuable right-of-way remain unused and abandoned. This new MTA study will confirm that full restoration of the line is the most cost- effective and environmentally sound way to ease congestion on our roadways, connect Queens neighborhoods and improve commutes for every New York City family.”

Last year, Goldfeder sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) calling for the feasibility study to be included in the state budget. That letter was co-signed by a majority of the Queens Assembly delegation.

At a Council hearing in November, Goldfeder made a similar argument in favor of reactivating the Rockaway Branch Line. He said that plan would cost almost $2.5 billion less than Phase One of the Second Avenue Subway and would provide more than twice the amount of track.

Goldfeder spoke wistfully of the days when the Rockaway Line provided a 30-minute, single-seat ride to Midtown Manhattan.

“To this day,” Goldfeder said, “many of my older constituents, when I see them at rallies, will come up to me and tell me stories of their childhood and how they remember utilizing that line.”

The Rockaway Line was fully decommissioned in 1962 and much of it has remained untouched for more than four decades.

U.S. Rep Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), senior member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, also advocated for the line’s reactivation at the council hearing.

“A major mistake was made 40 years ago. They should have reactivated it then,” Nadler said.

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

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. says:
Let me tell you and all of the people who supported Queensrail, or the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Branch: Phil, I agree that we need to improve transportation for all users: bus riders, cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, subway riders, etc. Let's be realistic and serious - The MTA 2015-2019 Capital Plan was not approved by the Capital Program Review Board for the following reasons, in which the MTA still needs $7.3B for their program that was unfunded: 1) The MOVE NY Fair Tolling Plan and other forms of congestion pricing in NYC are out of the question because many elected officials and their constituents in the outer boroughs are firmly opposed these, due to the fact that some people have no other transportation options except driving a motorized vehicle point a to point b and they are the part of the working class; 2) The need for increased taxes in the MTA region are out of the question because both Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Republican Led State Senate are firmly opposed these; 3) The need for kicking the can down the road or playing political football by putting is now out of the question because remember, by June 30 of this year, the MTA are running out of their own money for not only this capital plan, but for billions upon billions of dollars in deferred maintenance via the state of good repair; 4) Borrow the $7.3B via bonds, which could lead to 7.3% fare and toll hikes on the top of the biennial 4% fare and toll hikes for bridges, tunnels, subways, buses and commuter rail; 5) A major dispute between Upstate New York, where they needed $22B for road and bridge maintenance, and Downstate New York, where they need $7.3B for mass transit maintenance; and 6) It is not only either a local, city, or state issue, but also a national issue - look at what's going on in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. (with the Metro once was shutting down for a day), Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco (with BART was suffering major delays), and Los Angeles, where dozens upon billions of dollars in deferred maintenance are needed to be funded. Disclaimer: I am a Riders Alliance Member who is with many of my brethren during the MTA Board Meeting on that day. Note: Before you criticize me, take yourself in the mirror and ask yourself: Is NYC will have a next fiscal crisis because of this? And don't mention about fare evasion by the riders or the taxpayers who are footed the bill for this: That is the least of our problems. Disclaimer: Keep in mind that the MTA Chairman and CEO had said that they are taking this seriously as a long term project. The reasons: 1) According to the most recent U.S. Census in 2014, over 8.6 Million people are living in the 5 Boroughs, with the highest is in Queens, with a 5% increase; 2) Therefore, the more people coming in to a city, the more need for better public transportation in the short-term, the median term, and the long-term; and 3) Even the State Comptroller and now the NYC DOT Commissioner, who is also a Board Member of the MTA had said that this project is a big deal. As a peacemaker, let's come to a major consensus between your Queen Public Transit Committee, as well as my Riders Alliance and their allies, such as the Straphangers Campaign and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. Let's bury the hatchet. BTW, the City of New Still owns it: It is the step in the right direction. However: The biggest obstacle is Governor Cuomo, and we all have a grunge on him, being a person who loves driving, even though he was born and raised in your home Borough in Queens. So Phil, I will put you, Allen Rosen, and all of your members of the Queens Public Transit Committee to look at the mirror and ask yourself: If you want the Rockaway Beach Branch to be reactivated for transit use, are you going after: 1) Governor Cuomo; 2) The State Legislature; 3) The Trust for Public Land; 4) The NYC DOT; or 5) Other Transportation Advocates such as the Riders Alliance. And don't blame on me: I I am just a "Rogue," Freelance Reporter. Also, one other thing: you can check out the video made by the same transit advocacy group that I am a member of, the Riders Alliance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-wa7swrx2c. Or go to Twitter using #CuomosMTA. To the commenters of this blog, after watching this video, then look at the mirror and ask yourself: Is this the time that we fighting for all citizens? Finally, in terms of the MOVE NY Plan, I know that there is a likelihood that it will pass through the Republican Led State Senate and the Governor in the short term. Unless there is a major domino effect: 1) The deadline for finding a reasonable, source of general funding for the MTA 2015-2019 Capital Plan is due on April 1, where the state budget is due; 2) The MTA Chairman and CEO had warned that the MTA will be running out of money for capital projects after June 30 of this year, so kicking the can down the road is out of the question realistically; 3) If this happens, then the subway, bus and commuter rail systems in the MTA region will be deteriorating to the gory days of the 1970s and the 1980s; 4) The fiscal crisis will be starting to loom, which could result in the decline in the NYC economy; 5) Although the most recent U.S. Census had said that there are over 8.6 million people living in NYC, I will assume that some people will be moving out to the suburbs or in another state; 6) Who is the blame for all of this? Governor Andrew Cuomo because he make all the final decisions towards the MTA; 7) Who will pay for all of this despite that there is tens of billions of dollars in deferred maintenance? My millennial generation as well future generations, since I am a 24 year old recent college graduate. This is the dire reality we are facing right now and realistically: The MOVE NY plan will have a chance to go through at the most perfect timing possible. Note: The MOVE NY PLan could make Queensrail a reality.
March 25, 2016, 5:30 pm

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