1999-10-23 / Editorial/Opinion

Reactivate Action Now

While it seemed that the Airtrain (or light rail) planned along the Van Wyck expressway was full steam ahead, a boulder was thrown on the tracks. That boulder was a lawsuit filed this week by the Southeast Queens Concerned Neighbors, who said "we feel our quality of life is being violated and also our civil rights." The proposed Jamaica to Kennedy Airport link, estimated at $1.5 billion, has received opposition from Queens’ groups that fear the construction on the elevated line will cause massive traffic jams and disturbances to their neighborhoods. These southeast Queens residents recommended reactivating the Long Island Rail Road Rockaway branch, which has been touted as a cheaper and more efficient alternative. Rockawayites should take this opportunity to push the reactivation and assist our neighbors in southeast Queens.

Some of our local elected officials have called reactivation of the LIRR Rockaway branch a dream--something that could never happen. Why not? It makes sense. It provides a affordable, high speed rail link from Rockaway to Penn Station, with stops at JFK Airport, Ozone Park, Rego Park and Jamaica. And the estimated cost of construction is only $200 million.

Councilman Stabile has publicly opposed the idea, with his support behind light rail because of the planned refurbishing of the Howard Beach station. Stabile also agreed to support the light rail plan in return for the Port Authority doing a ferry study.

Joe Addabbo, jr., the 1997 contender against Stabile, was once the pro bono counsel for a LIRR Rockaway branch advocacy group, QRail, but his tune has changed also. He is now the chair of a liaison committee to the Port Authority for Community Board 10 and publicly supported the light rail at an airport access meeting on September 16, 1999. Guess the Port Authority got to him too.

We shouldn’t let the Port Authority, or any politicians, kill our dreams.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority said they would be releasing a study on a one-seat ride to JFK, which includes the Rockaway line, on July 31, 1999. It was never released. What happened?

Congressman Weiner and Assemblywoman Pheffer, both whom are supporters of the reactivation of the LIRR Rockaway branch, should start making the necessary calls and wake up some people at the MTA and Port Authority. Their support, and a belief in our dreams for Rockaway, are our only last hopes in making the Rockaway Beach line active again.

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