Congressmen Meeks, Jeffries and Assemblyman Goldfeder Request Federal Funding to Restore Rockaway Beach Rail Line
Restoration of Rockaway Beach Rail Line would rejuvenate local economy and offer faster transit alternatives
March 24, 2013

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder with Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (left), Congressman Gregory Meeks (right), transportation advocates, and community leaders discuss the need to reopen the Rockaway Beach Rail Line and expedite commutes for the residents of Southern Queens and the Rockaways who were hard hit by Hurricane Sandy.
U.S. Congressmen Gregory Meeks (NY-5) and Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) have joined Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (AD-23) in the effort to restore the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line. They recently sent a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, that requested a portion of approved federal disaster Sandy recovery aid be allocated to fund the much-needed 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 Phil Goldfeder. "It became evident after Sandy that we need to increase public transit options and improve our infrastructure for our neighborhoods in Southern Queens and Rockaway."

"The action Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Assembly Member Phillip Goldfeder and I are asking Secretary LaHood to take would be an important step in the recovery and a bold step into the future of reliable transportation for the devastated areas of the Rockaway and Southern Queens. Restoring the rail line would speed up the pace of recovery for residents and local businesses and create hundreds of jobs while laying the foundation for a transportation network that accommodates our future growth," said Congressman Gregory Meeks.

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, 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. In addition, 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. "According to the Census, residents of Southern Brooklyn and Queens currently face the longest commute averages in the City because of the lack of reliable transportation. Restoring the Rockaway Beach Rail Line would not only ease the commute for hundreds of thousands New York City residents, it would also spur job growth and revive local businesses that have been struggling since the Great Recession hit in 2008."

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder toured the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line firsthand to explore ways on how restore service to the more than half a century old track and improve transit options for all Queens residents.

Assemblyman Goldfeder has made transportation development for Queens' residents a top priority and delivered a petition with nearly 3,000 signatures from the Howard Beach community to Governor Cuomo, the Port Authority, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in support of bringing the line back to life. The petition cited the potential to rebuild efficiently after Sandy as a primary reason to examine feasibility of this line and other transportation options for Southern Queens and Rockaway.

"I am proud to stand with our outstanding local elected officials in supporting the reopening of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line, said Assembly District Leader Lew M. Simon. "Thos train is a win-win for all of us, and it will cut commute times considerably while improving our quality of life and raising our property values."

"Immediate investment in this project would offer a permanent and viable transit solution for the millions of hard-working families all across Queens, said Assemblyman Goldfeder. Restoring the rail line will help prepare our communities to become more resilient for our future and allow our local economy to thrive for many years to come."

The Rockaway Beach Rail Line was created around the turn of the century and was operated by the Long Island Rail Road. The rail line provided residents with timely 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. In the following years, the property has been vandalized and has become a blemish in the community it surrounds.