Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

Representing the 8th District of New York
 

Congressmen Jeffries, Meeks and Assemblyman Goldfeder Request Federal Funding to Restore Rockaway Beach Rail Line

Mar 25, 2013
Press Release

Restoration of Rockaway Beach Rail Line would rejuvenate local economy and offer faster transit alternatives

Ozone Park, NY - On March 24, 2013, U.S. Congressmen Gregory Meeks (D-Queens/Nassau)  and Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn and Queens) have joined Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Howard Beach) in the effort to restore the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line. The attached letter to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, requests a portion of approved federal disaster Sandy recovery aid be allocated to fund the much-needed project. Restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line would stimulate job creation and offer an efficient and dependable means of travel throughout Queens, as well as manageable commute times to Manhattan.

"Our families are struggling to rebuild after Sandy and investing in our transportation infrastructure will increase public travel options for every Queens resident, help our environment while boosting our struggling economy and small businesses by increasing intra-borough connectivity and creating jobs,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. 

“Immediate investment in this project would offer a permanent and viable transit solution for the millions of hard-working families all across Queens. It became evident after Sandy that we need to increase public transit options and improve our infrastructure for our neighborhoods in Southern Queens and Rockaway. Restoring the rail line will help prepare our communities to become more resilient for our future and allow our local economy to thrive for many years to come."

“The action Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, Assembly Member Phillip Goldfeder and I are asking Secretary LaHood to take would be an important step in the recovery and a bold step into the future of reliable transportation for the devastated areas of the Rockaway and Southern Queens. Restoring the rail line would speed up the pace of recovery for residents and local businesses and create hundreds of jobs while laying the foundation for a transportation network that accommodates our future growth,” said Congressman Gregory Meeks.

Earlier this year, the state announced that they would potentially receive $50 billion in federal disaster aid through the Sandy Relief Bill which would provide assistance for rebuilding infrastructure and helping homeowners and small businesses in recovery efforts.

The members noted in their letter, the current transit infrastructure of Queens is incapable of servicing the present population and does not offer any reliable or alternative travel options. Creating transportation that is more accessible is not only necessary in a post-Sandy community, but crucial for residents to have as an alternative route in the event of another disaster. In addition, the restoration of the rail line would create the only transit option for any intra-borough connectivity.

“Although Superstorm Sandy destroyed our coastlines and paralyzed our communities, we have an opportunity to rebuild the City in a smart and sustainable way that proactively addresses our future needs,” said Rep. Jeffries. “Residents of Southern Brooklyn and Queens currently face the longest commute averages in the City because of the lack of reliable transportation. Restoring the Rockaway Beach Rail Line would not only ease the commute for hundreds of thousands New York City residents, it would also spur job growth and revive local businesses that have been struggling since the Great Recession hit in 2008.”

Assemblyman Goldfeder has made transportation development for Queens’ residents a top priority and delivered a petition with nearly 3,000 signatures from the Howard Beach community to Governor Cuomo, the Port Authority, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in support of bringing the line back to life. The petition cited the potential to rebuild efficiently after Sandy as a primary reason to examine feasibility of this line and other transportation options for Southern Queens and Rockaway.

The Rockaway Beach Rail Line was created around the turn of the century and was operated by the Long Island Rail Road. The rail line provided residents with timely commutes to other parts of the city and a 40-minute commute to midtown Manhattan. In the early 60s, parts of the railroad were condensed, sectioned off and the line was eventually closed in 1962. In the following years, the property has been vandalized and has become a blemish in the community it surrounds. 

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Click HERE to read the letter to Department of Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood.