To the Editor:
Recently, there has been much discussion regarding a proposal to convert abandoned areas of the old Rockaway Beach Rail Line into a ‘highline’ park space. While I’m a strong advocate for increased park space in Queens, I believe Southern Queens and Rockaway would be better served if this forgotten track once again fulfilled its original purpose as a railroad. Transportation options for southern Queens and Rockaway residents are severely limited. Restoration of the abandoned rail line as an efficient transportation alternative to the A Subway Line would be welcomed news to residents who currently suffer with commutes of well over an hour to midtown Manhattan. I commend Community Board 14 and the Rockaway Transit Coalition led by Lew Simon for their advocacy over the years.
The Rockaway Line, also known as the White Pot Junction Line, was created around the turn of the century and was owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road. It provided residents with safe, affordable and expedient access to other parts of the city and 40 minute commutes to midtown Manhattan. In the early 60s, parts of the railroad service were condensed, sectioned off and eventually closed. In the following years, the property was vandalized, encroached upon and has become a source of embarrassment for the families that reside in the area.
Despite our limited transportation options, in recent years, southern Queens and Rockaway has seen a large population and construction boom. The opening of the Resorts World Casino at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, the renaissance of the Rockaway Peninsula as a tourist haven and the growing population all show that the restoration of this rail line is needed now more than ever.
I’m opposed to the ‘Queensway’ proposal, if it would in any way preclude the eventual restoration of a rail link that would serve southern Queens and Rockaway and urge residents to join me in opposition. Those same communities that are pushing this proposal are privileged with commutes of 30 minutes or less to midtown Manhattan and there is no reason why the residents of the 23rd Assembly District shouldn’t have this same opportunity.
Member of Assembly