In response to long commute times and restricted transportation options in Southern Queens and Rockaway, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway) and Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Ozone Park) held a joint press conference Friday, Feb. 10, calling for the complete rehabilitation of the old Rockaway Beach rail line which would create numerous public transportation options and increase access to Southern Queens and Rockaway.
“With the opening of the casino at Aqueduct and the proposed convention center, having adequate transportation to and from Queens must be a top priority,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “Now more than ever our families need access to affordable and reliable public transportation.”
“The transit infrastructure of Queens is hardly capable of handling the population needs of 1990 – let alone 2020,” said Assemblyman Miller. “There are a lot of proposals out there to improve transportation options for the residents of Queens, its time we took a serious look at some of these options”
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.
Currently, people commuting from Queens to midtown Manhattan face commute times of well over an hour. Reinstating the Rockaway Beach Rail line would once again provide people with a safe, affordable and expedient way to parts of the city, while cutting down the commute time to midtown Manhattan significantly, Assemblyman Goldfeder added.
“In my district, Assembly District 38, over fifty-two percent of daily commuters use mass transit – which equals about 30,000 people daily,” said Assemblyman Miller. “I have spoken to transit experts and this plan seems to be the most viable option to meet the needs of our growing borough. If the Aqueduct destination point is to be successful, there must be easy access to it from JFK, Queens, and Manhattan.”
“The goal of these initiatives is to cut down on commute times for Southern Queens and Rockaway families traveling outside of the borough for daily necessities and make Queens more accessible,” Assemblyman Goldfeder said. “This plan would help us achieve both.”
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 proposal to build the largest convention center in the world and the growing population all show that the restoration of this rail line is needed now more than ever.