A little-used stretch of train tracks in Queens could be the key to filling transit deserts in the borough, community leaders say.
The Long Island Railroad’s Lower Montauk branch, which runs 8.5 miles between Long Island City and Jamaica, could be used to bring new passenger rail service to communities like Maspeth and Glendale, which do not have subway stops.
The LIRR ran commuter trains along the line until 1998, when the Metropolitan Transportation Authority closed its stops due in part to low ridership. Now, the tracks service freight trains and are used as an extra storage space for Sunnyside Yard.
The chief advocate of the project, dubbed the QNS, is former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Queens). She commissioned an independent feasibility study in 2017, which was completed shortly after she left office in early 2018.
Crowley has recently renewed her push for the line — she hosted an event Friday to begin assembling a non-profit to stump for the project.
Her proposal would bring nine stops to the stretch, and would cost an estimated $2.2 billion to pull off. The 2018 study projects that it would serve roughly 21,000 weekday riders.
Community leaders and advocates of the project disagree with that assessment, noting that the areas it will serve expect to boom in the coming years.
“Look at the growth in Long Island City and the growth in the Jamaica downtown area and at JFK Airport,” said longtime transportation consultant Philippa Karteron, an advocate of the project. “If we could put something like this together, the corridor could be an economic development corridor, bringing in businesses, bringing in jobs.”
Unlike the BQX, another Queens-oriented transit project, Crowley’s idea isn’t supported by real estate developers — she says she’s working to form a grassroots campaign that has community boards involved from the get-go.
This actually isn't a bad idea considering the severe and desperate need for transit in this overcrowded and overburdened city but that rendering of Hillside Ave. in Richmond Hill is a hysterically inaccurate depiction of the citizenry in that area. And very racist in it's prescience of what the designers think it will look like if the station is built there.