The 1960s are looking attractive again for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).
The MTA is looking at reactivating a rail line that has been out of service since 1962, and despite a major price tag officials believe the second life will benefit commuters, homeowners and the New York economy.
A preliminary study was released by the MTA earlier this week on the track in eastern Queens. The feasibility of restoring what was once the Rockaway Beach Branch was looked at as part of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) or the subway. If the line was reopened as part of LIRR it would attract 11,000 riders every week day for a 30-minute ride between Howard Beach and Penn Station. The Rockaway Beach Branch would connect to the main line at Rego Park and continue south to Howard Beach. New storage and a maintenance yard would need to be constructed. A subway version of the Rockaway Beach Branch would pull in 47,000 week-day riders for a 45-minute commute between Howard Beach and Herald Square. This option calls for a new tunnel for an underground connection to the Queens Blvd. line at 64th Street.
Rockaway Beach Branch was originally part of the LIRR. Because the line has been dormant for more than five decades new track would have to be put down along with the installation of new signals and third-rail traction power substations.
The cost for the revival will be huge—$6.7 billion for LIRR and $8.1 billion for the subway.
Despite the cost, the study says the area around the line would experience a substantial economic revival. Officials are seriously considering the reactivation.
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