Home Asides Goldfeder: Queens College to study Rockaway Beach Branch reactivation

Goldfeder: Queens College to study Rockaway Beach Branch reactivation

by Benjamin Kabak

As the Friends of the QueensWay continue their taxpayer-supported push to develop a greenway on the fallow Rockaway Beach Branch right-of-way, Phil Goldfeder, Assembly representative from New York’s 23rd district, announced a competing study to be undertaken by Queens College urban studies students that will ascertain the best uses for the right-of-way. Goldfeder, a supporter of rail, has called this effort a “comprehensive and objective” one that will “assess the community impact of the proposed options for the abandoned tracks,” as compared with the park-only assessment underway by the Trust for Public Land.

In announcing the study, Goldfeder noted the disparity in focus. On Twitter, he said that the QueensWay team is wasting “tax money on expensive consultants” while the Queens College will “utilize local experts” and “undertake real objective study.” This new examination of the right of way is expected to take nine months, and it will include a full needs assessment as well as a cost analysis of the various options. Additionally, Congressmen Gregory Meeks (NY-5) and Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) continue to work with Goldfeder as well to ascertain if Sandy recovery money can be used for reactivated rail service.

In a subsequent press release, the Assembly rep added, “The Queens College Department of Urban Studies’ Office of Community Studies is renowned for its community-based research. It is the perfect partner to help determine what is in the best interest of Queens and city residents. Now that the MTA has signaled an interest in reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line as an efficient and cost-effective way to significantly increase public transit for Queens residents, it’s important we do appropriate studies to determine the next steps. While other groups are using tax dollars to hire expensive consultants and do one-sided studies, we’re utilizing local expert resources and educating our students while supporting an objective study that will enormously benefit all our hardworking Queens families.”

The details are still coming out, but for those of us very hesitant to embrace a QueensWay solution that would essentially cut off the rail option forever, this is a best-case scenario. A third party will assess the various proposed uses and develop cost estimates for each case. We’ll find out what rail reactivation would take, what usage a park would get, and what doing nothing would mean for Queens. Clawing back part of this process from the Trust for Public Land is a very good step indeed.

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AG November 25, 2013 - 4:48 pm

Hopefully this works… but I think Sandy funds could be used under “resiliency”.

kew gardens November 25, 2013 - 6:51 pm

It would use the same tracks through Jamaica Bay as the A train. Is the Cranberry street tunnel much less likely to flood than whichever tunnel from Queens the A would take? Or are the tracks less flood prone than Cross Bay blvd?

BrooklynBus November 25, 2013 - 6:09 pm

This is great news!

D in Bushwick November 25, 2013 - 6:42 pm

Expanding transit on an existing right of way is a no-brainer. But everyone loves a park and if officials choose this path, then it’s a done deal.
But reinstalling trains on the Rockaway Beach Branch will involve decades of lawsuits, and then billions in cost overruns and years delay in opening.
NYC has proven they can no longer get big public projects done without a monstrous amount of corruption.

Justin Samuels November 25, 2013 - 7:26 pm

The Second Avenue Subway lawsuits were dismissed in a comparatively short period of time, and even the Atlantic Yards project lawsuits were dismissed relatively fast. On a long term basis judges in NY tend to side with developers.

All major transportation projects anywhere take time, and often have delays as they tend to deliberately underestimate the completion time to the public. This is every state. So there’s no need for any negativity, all this is simply a part of the process of how things are built and how business is done.

D in Bushwick November 25, 2013 - 8:23 pm

London’s new Crossrail will cost $1 Billion per kilometer while the 2nd Ave Subway will be over $1.7 Billion per kilometer.
There is no other legitimate excuse why NYC has the most expensive and most delayed new subway lines in the world.

Bolwerk November 25, 2013 - 11:24 pm

Justin is right. Lawsuits are a comparatively small part of the problem. Over-the-top fear of lawsuits and disagreement might cause a lot of problems, however. I think most processes, from planning to execution, are just unnecessarily drawn out, and every government stakeholder up to the governor has delaying or veto power. Plus you got to please the feds, if you want their financing.

Walt Gekko November 27, 2013 - 1:26 am

The real problem is from what I remember, there are those who illegally have property that encroaches the ROW for the Rockaway line. That’s why many of them I believe don’t want a rail OR a park there, as some I’m sure are fearful they would lose land that isn’t rightfully theirs to begin with.

I do know if I were at Genting (the parent company of Resorts World, which runs the casino at Aqueduct), I would be willing to help pay for a re-activation of the Rockaway line as subway to Aqueduct, with the idea for such being a new (W) train running from Whitehall Street-Rockaway Park, obviously stopping at Aqueduct and eliminating the Rockaway Park shuttle since the (W) would be a 24/7 replacement for that line.

I would also be looking (and be willing to pay for it if I were at Genting) to re-build the old Aqueduct Racetrack station into a three-platform station with the “missing” express track rebuilt so when needed, the Aqueduct station can be used as a short-turn station if there is a G.O. on the Rockaway branch and also be used as such at particular times of the day if needed.

Justin Samuels November 27, 2013 - 6:44 am

Genting won’t use their profits to pay for Rockaway Beach LIRR expansion. The A train to Aqueduct is crowded, so there’s already direct train service there. People from other parts of Queens drive or take the bus.

Now, the state could sell bonds and pay for reactivation of the Rockaway Beach LIRR, and they could even back it with revenues derived from what Genting pays the state.

Or if this line is built, they may even be able to use the Sandy Recovery money as Goldfeder plans. There’s no reason for Genting to lower its profit and invest in a train line. Infrastructure is the job of the government, not a private company and all construction still has to have government approval.

Bolwerk November 25, 2013 - 11:20 pm

Luckily most of those problems apply to a park too, so not all hope is lost. Better to keep it fallow for another generation or two than to waste it on a park. Unless de Blasio grows a spine and comes out in support of rail, it’s not going to move much in that direction anyway with Cuomo around. The city owns the land, and could really move the project.

Plus, not everyone loves a park. Some of these NIMBYs are eating their own and opposing a park, and there is definitely growing support for rail.

Justin Samuels November 25, 2013 - 7:30 pm

This is wonderful. Goldfeder got local experts and students to do the study at zero cost to the taxpayers and the MTA. And this maybe zero cost to NYC taxpayers if they can use Sandy Recovery money to reactivate the Rockaway Beach LIRR. This is a very important first step. You got the study you wanted, Benjamin.

Philip McManus November 25, 2013 - 9:05 pm

We need help.

We need to grow and build community support for the Queens Rockaway Beach Line, faster transportation.

Thank you to everyone who came to the QueensWay meeting on Wednesday. We stood up and spoke up together for what is right.

Thank you also to Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and Queens College for organizing this study.

The reactivation of the Queens Rockaway Beach Line will expand the transit system, increase social and economic opportunities, increase property values and tax revenue.

The RBL will increase transit options including faster travel times to work, home, school, shopping, recreation, dining, family visits, and doctor visits.

The RBL will decrease pollution, accidents, unemployment, crime and government dependence, reduce present and future overcrowding and unreliable buses, trains and roadways at a much, much greater level than the QueensWay plan.

The QueensWay plan sounds good but it will only benefit a few people and a small area of Queens. It’s the small plan while the transportation plan is the big plan, the most inclusive plan.

Reusing the Queens RBL for transportation is the best plan. It will reunite north and south Queens and decrease travel times and increase investments for everyone especially the poor and middle class areas that are underserved, excluded and separated from the American dream.

The QueensWay plan and the No Way plan are exclusive and divide our borough. It also prevents development and investments in Queens.

We need jobs and businesses for all the people so we can grow and help each other.

The NIMBYS plans do nothing or very little to support Queens and the City.

Please consider reusing the Queens Rockaway Beach Line for transportation with beautification.

Tell your family and friends and commuters to sign our petitions to support the Reactivation of the Queens Rockaway Beach Line, the New Queens Crosstown, eliminate the toll on the Queens Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge for everyone and expand the Queens Rockaway Ferry:


Philip McManus
Queens Public Transit Committee







Walt Gekko November 27, 2013 - 1:30 am

The real problem as noted in another post is some of these NIMBYs I believe have property that illegally encroaches the ROW and from what I’ve read they know that. That could turn into a big-time sticking point.

Alex C November 25, 2013 - 9:05 pm

This is great news. Nice to see people who actually care about their community look at transit improvements (while QueensWay burns through tax dollars).

Isaac B November 25, 2013 - 9:07 pm

Don’t be surprised if in the end the “solution” to the Rockaway ROW is “none of the above”, but some backroom deal, ceding the land to some privileged party. This reminds me of the process that took place after the demolition of the Culver shuttle (9th Avenue lower level to Ditmas Avenue). There talk about a park, for a neighborhood that could really use one. But then there was this construction materials company that had long parked their vehicles and stored stock under the el. And they said they’d close down and leave lots of people jobless unless they could continue their arrangement. So, some pol cut them a deal and basked in the credit. The park never got built.

Bolwerk November 25, 2013 - 11:29 pm

Is anyone trying to reach out to more reasonable park advocates? The more I think about it, the more one thing seems strikingly obvious to me: Forest Park has a hell of a lot of potential to be another Prospect Park. What is it missing? Good transit access.

Good transit should be a friend to good park policy, not an enemy.

kew gardens November 26, 2013 - 3:43 pm

Forest Park has a lot of problems. The bridle paths are rather extensive in the eastern half. So it’s full of shit. Yea, it goes away after a few days, but the steady parade of horses through the park means there’s always a lot of shit The trails get a little overgrown in the summer, so people try walking the bridle path instead. A little gross. The bridle paths and the hiking paths could use some attention generally (parks has recently covered some of the paths with woodchips, but they need more work). The area around the park isn’t great. So soiled condoms and garbage including a fair bit of broken glass migrates into the park. The stretch of the rockaway line through the park is enjoyable for fans of abandoned porn, but it’s not inviting. All the trash that’s been dumped there hasn’t helped. The string of rapes and muggings earlier in the year turned off some locals. Forest park drive through the eastern half of the park is supposed to be closed to traffic. Access points at myrtle/109th st, metropolitan ave, and woodhaven. Cars drive through regularly, zipping down the empty road. There’s a gate, but it doesn’t lock. NYPD patrols through the park, but they won’t close the gate. They just push it open with their car and drive off. Leaving it wide open, inviting criminals to drive through. The park has potential, but adding a second rail line (unelectrified LIRR cuts across the park too), this one with a stop in the park isn’t going to help. Also the Jackie Robinson parkway produces a low roar that serves to remind you that you’re still in the city, no matter where you go in the park.

If you want park advocates to support, or at least not oppose the rockaway line, there’s quite a bit for the city to try offering them in park improvements.

John-2 November 25, 2013 - 11:36 pm

With the casino gambling bill having passed earlier this month, the Rockaway Branch’s future — in terms of any support from Albany — probably comes down to what’s allowed at Aqueduct above what’s there now, and what else would be allowed around the rest of New York City, when the delay period for full-scale downstate casinos ends.

Local residents and/or the possible faster connection to JFK from Midtown aren’t going to be enough of a push to get the line built. But the possibility of shuttling gamblers from Midtown to a full-service casino would potentially have enough political clout with the right people at the state capital to suddenly make the Rockaway Branch’s reactivation an attractive option, to the point that Queensway proponents suddenly see doors closing in their faces.

AG November 26, 2013 - 8:46 pm

that has nothing to do with it… none of the casinos are allowed in NYC… the closest is the Catskills

Walt Gekko November 27, 2013 - 1:28 am

That’s now, but will likely change eventually.

Jeff November 26, 2013 - 3:37 pm

Seems like a publicity stunt to me…

Who’s going to take some research by a bunch of college students seriously? There’s a reason why people pay enormous amounts of money to consultants.


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