Queens College unveils its study of Rockaway Line
by Andrew Shilling
Nov 12, 2014 | 6884 views | 1 1 comments | 66 66 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, "I urge the MTA to support and fully study the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Line and include it in their next capital plan."
Congressman Jerrold Nadler said, "I urge the MTA to support and fully study the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Line and include it in their next capital plan."
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder sees the results from the new Queens College study as a clear sign that the borough is ready for a train revival.
Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder sees the results from the new Queens College study as a clear sign that the borough is ready for a train revival.
Transportation advocates gather at the Queens College Rosenthal Library Atrium, located at 65-30 Kissena Blvd. to hear the report findings.
Transportation advocates gather at the Queens College Rosenthal Library Atrium, located at 65-30 Kissena Blvd. to hear the report findings.
It has been nearly one year since the Queens College Department of Urban Studies embarked on a study to help determine the best use of an abandoned 3.5-mile stretch of abandoned rail tracks running from the Rockaways to Rego Park.

Student researchers handed out surveys to nearly 5,000 residents and 800 businesses along the former Rockaway Beach Rail Line, questioning their awareness of the proposed rail revitalization and the QueensWay park plan, as well as which one they preferred in their community.

With valid responses from just 363 residents and 44 businesses, the students found that support for both proposals was nearly split. Considering the roughly 5 percent margin or error, nearly 40 percent of middle-class residents were in favor of the rail line reactivation while a little more than 25 percent preferred the parkland.

Urban Studies professor Scott Larson spent the last year conducting the study with students over the summer, as well as collected and analyzed the information when it came back.

“We didn’t get the response we wanted,” Larson said, stressing that with the percent of error on the study, support could have potentially been split between both proposals. “There needs to be more done.”

Larson said while the study shows where a small subset of the community stands on the matter, awareness of both plans remains in question.
“Some of the people understood to some degree that they wanted something there, so I think there is a lot of work that can be done around assessing that,” he suggested for future studies of the plan. “As much as we hear about it - we’ve talked to the QueensWay folks and the train line folks - the community doesn’t seem to have that same sense of awareness.”

Longtime train revitalization supporter, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, praised the school for their work on the report.

“The results of this study clearly show that reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line is the best, most cost-effective way to decrease commute times, improve access to existing parkland and grow our small businesses in Queens,” Goldfeder said.

In an effort to gain additional support from the city, he added that he plans to pressure the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to include the renovation of the train line in their next capital plan.

“Complete restoration of the rail line will increase transit options for every resident in Queens and New York City, create quality jobs, boost our economic development, ease commutes and congestion, and clean our environments by taking thousands of cars off the road,” he said.

Marc Matsil, New York State director for the Trust for Public Land, said their own study, which was conducted a little over a year and a half ago, found that nearly 78 percent of community boards in the borough supported the QueensWay proposal.

According to Matsil, their competing study shows that the QueensWay proposal would produce a seven to 10 percent increase in real estate value, citing nearly 30 similar, “rails to trails,” across the country.

“Nobody wants to see their real estate, that they invest and pay their mortgage on, decrease,” he said. “That is not to mention quality-of-life issues with five schools directly adjacent to the QueensWay, some built in the last couple of years.”

After hearing the results of the study from representatives of Queens College earlier this week, Phil McManus, founder of the Queens Public Transit Committee, said he is concerned about the results.

“I believe that this was a neutral report,” McManus said.

He added that the next step for his organization is to spread the word about bringing back the transit option, however he admits that it will be an uphill battle.

“There’s a lot of people in Queens that speak different languages,” he said. “I really do feel that we have a civic duty.”

What do you want to see happen with the abandoned Rockway Line?

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Philip McManus
November 28, 2014
Thank you to the Times Newsweekly for their support.

Please support restoration of the Queens Rockaway Beach, the new Queens Crosstown.

October 23, 2014 Edition

Times Newsweekly EDITORIAL

The QueensWay To Nowhere

Not since the days of Robert Moses has there been a public project more tone-deaf, condescending and unnecessary than the QueensWay.

Supporters of the proposal—which would turn the longabandoned, 3.2-mile Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Beach branch into a nature trail and bike path—heralded their scheme with a press conference last week outside Forest Hills’ Metropolitan Avenue Educational Campus, which is near the fallow rail line.

They could have held it a couple of blocks west at the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Woodhaven Boulevard, but we guess there were too many cars on the road—and too many passengers waiting to board crowded buses—to accommodatetheir needs.

The QueensWay supporters make their idea sound terrific, claiming it transforms an abandoned eyesore into something with a purpose, addressing needs for additional park and recreational space and giving people a place to bike, run or leisurely walk through nature.

In the real world, it’s a bunch of baloney.

Has anyone at the Trust for Public Land, the main proponent of the QueensWay scheme, bothered to travel Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards recently? Do they even know where these roads are?

Let us clue them in a bit on the situation. Four bus lines—the Q11, the Q21, the Q52 and Q53—serve this corridor. Most days, they’re running with delays because of traffic and packed door-to-door with passengers.

Neither of these lines, mind you, connect southern Queens riders to Manhattan. Three express bus routes run along Woodhaven and Cross Bay boulevards, but service is only available during rush hour and some weekend periods. Anyone traveling between Manhattan and south Queens must rely on the A line, which snakes through Brooklyn and takes about an hour each way.

The MTA and city Transportation Department have obviously noticed the congestion, as they plan to introduce Select Bus Service (SBS) along the boulevards. This may speed things up a bit, but it still doesn’t solve the problem of long travel times between Queens and Manhattan.

Meanwhile, there sits the Rockaway Beach line, which used to link up with the LIRR’s Main Branch in Rego Park and travels near the J/Z line above Jamaica Avenue, the LIRR Atlantic Terminal Branch below Atlantic Avenue and the A train above Liberty Avenue. It’s also close enough to Kennedy Airport that it makes the idea of a one-seat rail link between the airport and Manhattan viable.

The Rockaway Beach branch should be used for public transit again. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said as much in a recent report. The MTA also hinted its interest at bringing some kind of train service back. They seem to, at the very least, acknowledge the plight of the suffering Queens commuter.

But the self-aggrandizing proponents of the QueensWay don’t care about the transportation problems Queens commuters face—or Queens commuters, in general. They only care about forwarding their own fantastical vision of outdoing the High Line in Manhattan.

It’s a matter of ego-friendliness, not ecofriendliness. Should the city endorse and fund the construction of the QueensWay, we predict, as 1960s urban activist Jane Jacobs said in “The Death and Life of American Cities,” it will become a promenade that goes “from no place to nowhere and have no promenaders.”

Like Robert Moses, the Friends of the QueensWay and the Trust for Public Land think they know better and act supposedly in everyone’s best interest—but they’re really looking out only for themselves. Every elected official, civic and business organization truly looking out for Queens’ interests should work to stop this stupid plan and work to build something Queens really needs—a new rail line.

2014-10-23 / Editorial

Philip McManus



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