Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) this week ramped up efforts to help fund the revitalization of the defunct Rockaway Beach Rail Line by penning a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, urging him to direct a portion of the $5 billion in state dollars from the budget surplus, created by settlements and fines from major financial firms, to restore the line.
Last week, Goldfeder helped detail the findings of a Queens College study that surveyed thousands of residents and researched available census data to gauge the transportation and park needs of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Glendale, Richmond Hill, Woodhaven and Ozone Park—the neighborhoods surrounding the abandoned line. According to the resulting data, “nearly half of all business owners who completed the study said using the rail line right of way for public transit would have a ‘significant positive’ impact on their business.” By comparison, less than a third believed that the proposed QueensWay Plan would have a similar impact.
In his letter to Cuomo, Goldfeder noted that the student-led survey concluded that reactivating the RBRL, which would cost between $600 million and $900 million, could generate 500,000 subway rides a day.
“This is a one-shot infusion of money that should be used for infrastructure that could provide Queens and the entire city with the transit options it so desperately needs,” Goldfeder said. “What better use of state dollars than for the restoration of an abandoned rail line that could create jobs, remove congestion from our roadways and improve transit options for up to 500 thousand riders per day.”
Last month, Friends of the QueensWay and the Trust for Public Land released the QueensWay Plan, a project that involves converting the RBRL into a $120 million public park boasting trails and many amenities.
By Michael V. Cusenza