2006-02-03 / Community

New York State Studies Mass Transit In The Rockaways

Residents Register Complaints With Officials
By Miriam Rosenberg Contributing Editor

By Miriam Rosenberg
Contributing Editor

Using a slide show the MTA’s Chris Bastian, the project manager for the Lower Manhattan Jamaica/JFK Transportation Project, describes the project to Rockaway residents.
Using a slide show the MTA’s Chris Bastian, the project manager for the Lower Manhattan Jamaica/JFK Transportation Project, describes the project to Rockaway residents.

Mass transit in the Rockaways is getting some much-needed attention from the state, which is conducting a thorough study of the area, according to a representative who spoke last Thursday at a meeting in Rockaway Park.

“We’re doing a study of the entire transportation plan for the entire peninsula,” said Merrill Frank, of the New York State Department of Transportation.

Frank, who met with members of the Good Government Regular Democratic Club, credited State Senator Malcolm Smith as a catalyst for the study, which includes all modes of mass transportation – rail, bus and ferry.

While that study is in the scoping phase, Chris Bastian of the MTA addressed the public about the Lower Manhattan Jamaica/JFK Transportation Project and how using part of the old Rockaway Beach Long Island Rail Road line might be involved.

Posing for The Wave’s camera are Merrill Frank of the NYSDOT, Anthony Calendar of the Port Authority, Patricia Ornst of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Bastian of the MTA, and the Democratic Club’s Simon and Berger.
Posing for The Wave’s camera are Merrill Frank of the NYSDOT, Anthony Calendar of the Port Authority, Patricia Ornst of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Bastian of the MTA, and the Democratic Club’s Simon and Berger. The use of the old LIRR line is one of 141 alternatives the MTA is considering for the project. The old line at White Pot Junction would connect with the Atlantic Avenue LIRR line for a direct connection with a new tunnel that would lead to a transit hub in lower Manhattan.

“We are currently in the alternatives and analysis phase,” said Bastian during a slide show detailing the project to Rockaway residents. “We will identify a small list of potential alternatives for review.”

The Rockaway Transit Alliance chaired by Democratic District Leader Lew Simon and Carl Perra, have been advocating reopening the old LIRR line for quicker service into Manhattan.

“Part of the line will be reopened if this alternative is taken,” said Simon about the one in 141 chance of the line being chosen.

Lew Simon (right) tries to get Bastian to understand the dire straits of Rockaway’s transportation system.
Lew Simon (right) tries to get Bastian to understand the dire straits of Rockaway’s transportation system. Many of those at the standing room only meeting tried to impress upon Bastian the impact bringing the project through Rockaway Beach would have.

Economically, residents said, the line would bring people out to the beachfront during the summer – the peak season for businesses near the beach.

While the meeting was meant to discuss the project, several residents took the opportunity to register their complaints about transportation in the Rockaways.

Patty McCabe, a city worker, told Bastian about unheated trains in the winter and being stuck on an open bridge enroute to her job.

“It is easier to drive to Broad Channel,” McCabe said.

Said one resident in explaining the trip from Rockaway to the city and back each day for work on the A Train, “it takes a good three hours and you hope you get heat and a clean train. [What we] go through is the pits. I’m glad you included part of the old Rockaway Beach line in the plan.”

Michelle Silverman said use of the Atlantic Avenue LIRR line would be great for Howard Beach.
Michelle Silverman said use of the Atlantic Avenue LIRR line would be great for Howard Beach. Michelle Silverman said the alternative of the Atlantic Avenue line would be great for Howard Beach.

“For Rockaway there is only so many alternatives,” Silverman said.

People also complained about the irregular running of an ‘A’ express to Rockaway Park.

The buses didn’t fare any better, as there were complaints about the Q 35 and the increase in fare now that the MTA is taking over the private lines.

The Democratic Club’s president, Sarah Berger, asked, “Are we stepchildren” in terms of transportation in the city? “This was the purpose of bringing you here,” Simon told Bastian. Simon pointed out that past attempts to air grievances about mass transit in the Rockaways have gone unanswered but, he continued, someone has to begin to listen.

Peninsula residents crowded the office of the Good Government Regular Democratic Club for the opportunity to air their complaints about mass transit in the Rockaways.
Peninsula residents crowded the office of the Good Government Regular Democratic Club for the opportunity to air their complaints about mass transit in the Rockaways. “We want to give everyone better access,” Bastian said. “We’re doing a study and taking everyone’s opinion.”

Also attending the meeting were Anthony Calendar of the Port Authority and Patricia Ornst of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

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