Three New York politicians have called upon the federal government to deliver funding for a study on reactivating the city’s long-dormant Rockaway Beach Branch. Tying such an effort into both Sandy-related infrastructure investment and improved mobility for Queens and Brooklyn residents who currently face very long rides into Manhattan, Congressmen Hakeem Jeffries and Greg Meeks joined New York State Assembly Representateive Phil Goldfeder this weekend in requesting that some federal Sandy relief aid be earmarked for the project.
“Although Superstorm Sandy destroyed our coastlines and paralyzed our communities, we have an opportunity to rebuild the City in a smart and sustainable way that proactively addresses our future needs,” Rep. Jeffries said during a Sunday press conference. “Residents of Southern Brooklyn and Queens currently face the longest commute averages in the City because of the lack of reliable transportation. Restoring the Rockaway Beach Rail Line would not only ease the commute for hundreds of thousands New York City residents, it would also spur job growth and revive local businesses that have been struggling since the Great Recession hit in 2008.”
Goldfeder has been a leading political voice expressing support for the rail line, and enlisting Meeks and Jeffries should bring some further attention to the idea. It may not be as au currant or sexy as a High Line-style park, but expecting a High Line-style park to pop up in central Queens is foolish at best. Rail’s impact, as these politicians pointed out, would be far more beneficial for everyone.
“Immediate investment in this project would offer a permanent and viable transit solution for the millions of hard-working families all across Queens,” Goldfeder said. “It became evident after Sandy that we need to increase public transit options and improve our infrastructure for our neighborhoods in Southern Queens and Rockaway. Restoring the rail line will help prepare our communities to become more resilient for our future and allow our local economy to thrive for many years to come.”
Now, as park activists push forward with an RFP, we just have to wait for Washington to respond.