"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 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.