2005-08-25 / Community

Transit Coalition Urges Use of Old Rockaway Line

Advocates of better mass transit for residents of Rockaway, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill and Woodhaven are gathering to make sure that their communities are not excluded from the multi-billion dollar plans to improve transportation between Lower Manhattan and the Long Island Rail Road Jamaica Station and with JFK International Airport.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), in cooperation with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PANYNJ) and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) and supported by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCDEC) are preparing an alternatives analysis and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate alternatives that provide improved commuter and airport access.

Residents who regularly spend more than an hour getting to Lower Manhattan or an hour and a half to get to midtown Manhattan know that there must be a better way to travel. Older residents remember that the LIRR provided service from Rockaway to Manhattan in 42 minutes and from Ozone Park in 22 minutes using the old Rockaway Beach right of way.

The current plans of the agencies provide for improved service for commuters from eastern Queens and Nassau County.

They ignore the needs of residents of southwestern Queens and the Rockaway peninsula. When asked why the Rockaway Beach right of way was not even included on the large maps displayed at the public hearings, employees of the engineering firm, which is preparing the study, said that it was because the line is not currently used.

The employees told Norman Silverman of the Rockaway Transit Coalition that they personally favored using the Rockaway Beach line. They urged those persons who wanted the Rockaway Beach line to be reopened to make their views known immediately.

“It is late in the game but it is not too late,” said Silverman.

Although sparsely attended public hearings have already been held, the public record is open until September 17.

Letters may be sent to Chris Bastien, Project Manager, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 347 Madison Avenue- 10th Floor, New York, NY 10017.

The Transit Coalition invites all to meet on Monday, August 29 at 7:45 p.m. at the Good Government Regular Democratic Club, 112-20 Beach Channel Drive in Rockaway ParkĀ opposite Waldbaum’s.

The purpose will be to review the current plans and plan future efforts. Speakers will include Co-ChairĀ  Lew M. Simon, who will lead a massive petition campaign, and Co-Chair Carl Perrera, who will explain four alternative plans that would serve local commuters and be consistent with Lower Manhattan redevelopment.

Simon urged all local elected officials, representatives of civic groups, commuters who spend more than 45 minutes to get to work and their families to attend.

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