New York Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens/Nassau) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn and Queens) have joined state Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach) in the effort to restore the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line.
The officials ent a letter U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, requesting that a portion of approved federal disaster Sandy recovery aid be allocated to fund the project. Restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line would stimulate job creation and offer an efficient and dependable means of travel throughout Queens, as well as manageable commute times to Manhattan.
“Our families are struggling to rebuild after Sandy and investing in our transportation infrastructure will increase public travel options for every Queens resident, help our environment while boosting our struggling economy and small businesses by increasing intra-borough connectivity and creating jobs,” said Assemblyman Goldfeder.
Earlier this year, the state announced that they would potentially receive $50 billion in federal disaster aid through the Sandy Relief Bill, which would provide assistance for rebuilding infrastructure and helping homeowners and small businesses in recovery efforts.
The members noted in their letter that the current transit infrastructure of Queens is incapable of servicing the present population and does not offer any reliable or alternative travel options. Creating transportation that is more accessible is not only necessary in a post-Sandy community, but crucial for residents to have as an alternative route in the event of another disaster, they said. The officials stated that the restoration of the rail line would create the only transit option for any intra-borough connectivity.
“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,” said Rep. Jeffries. “Residents of Southern Brooklyn and Queens currently face the longest commute averages in the city because of the lack of reliable transportation.”
The Rockaway Beach Rail Line was created around the turn of the century and was operated by the Long Island Rail Road. The line provided residents with commutes to other parts of the city and a 40-minute commute to midtown Manhattan. In the early 60s, parts of the railroad were condensed, sectioned off and the line was eventually closed in 1962.