Pol asks for community input on light rail
by Patrick Kearns
May 23, 2017 | 4122 views | 0 0 comments | 128 128 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A proposal to revive the Lower Montauk branch with a light rail that travels from Jamaica to Long Island City is getting strong support from Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, but not every resident is ready to hop on board.

During a public meeting at the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale on May 16, residents expressed a number of concerns over the potential transportation project. But Crowley touted how much the “transportation desert” in her district could benefit from the project.

Crowley was able to secure $500,000 to study the project after receiving the backing of every affected community board and member of the City Council in Queens.

“I wouldn’t push this idea if I didn’t think it would benefit everybody,” said Crowley. “Whether you live with your backyard adjacent to the property or whether you live a few blocks away or whether you have an opportunity to take a bus to the train.”

According to Crowley, approximately 45 percent of people using public transportation in Queens are traveling within the borough, so she believes more inter-Queens transportation is necessary.

“Queens does not have its fair share of public transportation,” she added. “Because of that, we have far too many cars on our streets.

“I believe this would make our borough healthier,” she added. “It would take cars off the street and give people a better opportunity to get to work or get to school.”

The most common concerns from residents included an influx of cars parking on the streets and the increased noisiness and general nuisance of more trains running through their backyards.

But according to Crowley, New York and Atlantic Railways, which currently operates freight on the line, has an interest in increasing those trains. She argued that adding a passenger rail in some capacity could reduce the amount of freight on the line.

The line was active with passenger rail in the past, eventually disappearing due to that lack of ridership and because access to the trains was not compliant the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, according to William Crowell, an engineer with AECOM, the company the Department of Transportation is working with on the study.

“The service that was there in the 1990s and 1980s, there were no stations,” he said. “There was just sort of a maybe a cement path. We were down to three trains a day and it was very expensive for the railroad to operate it.”

Crowley also added that the service wasn’t very well advertised. At the end of its run, she was a student at Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and living in Glendale. She didn’t know the train even existed.

“I had no idea that service was available so I never used it,” she said. “It would have been quite easy to get into Manhattan and Penn Station.”
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