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Thread: L.I.R.R. Rockaway Beach Branch Conversion

  1. #1

    Default L.I.R.R. Rockaway Beach Branch Conversion

    January 2, 2005


    Dreams and Schemes for an Abandoned Rail Line


    For years, debate raged over plans to transform the High Line, the defunct Chelsea freight railway, into an elevated public park. Now, as the city and a nonprofit group are moving ahead on those plans, central Queens has set out on a similar mission for its equivalent of the High Line.

    Far less celebrated than its Manhattan counterpart, the derelict Rockaway Beach Branch of the Long Island Rail Road, which once ran south from Rego Park all the way to the Rockaway peninsula, survives as rusty trestles and tracks, elevated along much of their route. Inspired by the planned rejuvenation of the High Line, two community boards in central Queens hope to turn parts of the abandoned spur into recreational green space.

    On Dec. 14, Community Board 9 adopted a resolution calling for the city to create a bicycle path on the 1.5-mile stretch of the property running through Forest Park and south through Woodhaven and Ozone Park. North of Rockaway Boulevard, the defunct line is now owned partly by the Parks Department and partly by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

    "A bikeway would take this old, abandoned ugly structure and, if you have tree plantings on it and you could beautify it, it would add to the community," said Mary Ann Carey, district manager of Board 9. "It's not something that's going to happen overnight, but we know there is precedent for it."

    Community Board 6, meanwhile, plans to study a similar proposal for its segment of the Rockaway Beach Branch in Rego Park and Forest Hills. Scraggly weeds have cloaked much of this rail line, while hundreds of decades-old trees now stand in the elevated corridor along which generations of families took the L.I.R.R. to Rockaway Beach from 1908 until the 1950's.

    Maria Thomson, executive director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, acknowledged that turning the Rockaway Beach Branch into parkland would give the added benefit of preventing its resurrection as an active train line. Proposals for reactivation have repeatedly surfaced - and been beaten back by central Queens residents - ever since the line's last operating section was decommissioned in 1962.

    "That line runs right behind all our homes and properties on 98th Street," Ms. Thomson said, "and if it were reactivated, it would be a hazard to the residents and their quality of life." But even Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, a longtime proponent of reactivating the train line to give her constituents in the Rockaways a speedier route to Manhattan than the circuitous A train, sees the merit of a linear park along part of the route.

    "A bike path for the next 20 or 30 years might not be so bad," she said. "It's a very comfortable use for it in comparison to selling it and putting a building on it. But I'd really like to reactivate it."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  2. #2


    January 9, 2005


    A Plan to Resurrect a Queens Rail Line

    To the Editor:

    Re "Dreams and Schemes for an Abandoned Rail Line" (Jan. 2):

    The very best solution for the derelict Rockaway Beach Branch of the Long Island Rail Road in Central Queens is to build a combination rail and trail.

    The disused 4.1-mile segment of this strategically located rail line lies almost in a direct path between Midtown Manhattan and Kennedy International Airport. Its restoration would permit the long sought direct, high-speed one-seat ride rail service from Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station to each of the six on-airport rail stations recently constructed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

    A new rail line would increase economic activity in Woodhaven and other communities along the route and would cut 20 to 30 minutes off travel time to the Rockaways. The restored rail line would cost less than one-tenth of what the Port Authority plans to spend to link Kennedy to Lower Manhattan, while serving five times as many passengers.

    By using modern state-of-the-art track design and rail cars, noise and vibration would be kept to a minimum.

    Most residences are a considerable distance from the rail line, with only backyards, garages and tool sheds abutting the line. The wide right of way has plenty of room to include a linear park as well.

    George Haikalis
    Greenwich Village
    The writer is president of the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility, an advocacy group on transportation issues.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  3. #3


    January 16, 2005


    Queens Redevelopment

    To the Editor:

    "A Plan to Resurrect a Queens Rail Line" (letter, Jan. 9) is correct in calling for restoration of the Long Island Rail Road's Rockaway Beach Branch.

    The revived rail line is needed to enable redevelopment of the Rockaways, a potentially very attractive area that has long suffered from slow transit service. Higher property values and influxes of people attracted by fast service to Midtown could revitalize en-route neighborhoods like Richmond Hill.

    Rockaways redevelopment and a Richmond Hill and South Queens revival would bring in millions of dollars of badly needed tax revenues and create many temporary and permanent jobs. Tax-increment financing sparked by the rail route would help pay for the line and for the letter writer's proposed trackside linear park.

    Brendan B. Read
    Clifton, Staten Island
    The writer is a former vice president of the Committee for Better Transit.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  4. #4
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    Nov 2002
    New York City


    Park space would be wonderful, but I must agree that the best course of action would be to reactivate this line. Would it be possible to somehow accomodate both?

  5. #5


    January 23, 2005


    First a Greenway, Then a Train Line

    To the Editor:

    I am responding to two letters (Jan. 9 and 16) calling for the revival of service on the abandoned Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Beach Branch. I am the Queens resident whose proposal to Community Board 9 led to its adoption of a resolution in December calling for transforming this right-of-way into a greenway comprising a bike path and a hiking trail ("Dreams and Schemes for an Abandoned Rail Line," Jan. 2).

    Even though a restored Rockaway Beach line may prove acceptable to residents of Central Queens - which, according to your article, is unlikely - when could we expect the M.T.A., or whoever, to even begin planning such a move? In five years? Ten? No train has run on these tracks since 1962. Why should we expect service to resume anytime soon, given the deterioration of the line's infrastructure and the fragile condition of transportation budgets at all levels of government?

    In the meantime, this property is serving no use except as a repository for refuse. A rebirth as a greenway could be accomplished much more speedily and cheaply than returning it to train service. And, if realized, it would preserve the property intact for public use and prevent it from being sold off piecemeal to developers.

    A combination train-line and linear park might prove to be a good idea down the road, but let's get started on the park right now, so the public can enjoy its benefits as soon as possible.

    Jordan Sandke
    Richmond Hill, Queens

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  6. #6


    rego park is hell youll be dead there.dead meat that is

  7. #7



    You couldn't be more wrong.

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