A long sought train connection between Brooklyn and Queens may finally become a reality, as New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced she wants to “take an old, unused, 14-mile-long right-of-way and create what we’re calling the Inter-Borough Express” during her State of the State address Wednesday.

The route occupies existing freight train tracks that begin in Bay Ridge and go into Astoria, running through neighborhoods including Sunset Park, Borough Park, Kensington, Midwood, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Lots, Brownsville, East New York, Bushwick, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. If the project moves forward it would create new stations in underserved communities, or “transit deserts.”

Hochul directed the MTA to conduct an environmental review immediately. In early 2020, the agency initiated a study on the feasibility of using the route for passenger use.

“This project would smartly repurpose existing infrastructure to add mass transit and create access to jobs, education, and opportunity for so many residents of Queens and Brooklyn,” MTA Acting Chair and CEO Janno Lieber said in a statement. After the federal infrastructure bill passed last year, Lieber hinted that revitalizing the Bay Ridge branch freight tracks could be a possible project utilizing that funding.

The Brooklyn-Queens connection is something the Regional Plan Association has called for since 1996. The group presented its idea, the Triboro, as a 24-mile route that would connect the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens using existing tracks from Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, and the commercial freight provider CSX, and shave off commute times for people traveling between the boroughs.

“We are especially pleased to see Governor Hochul propose the Inter-borough Express, which will utilize existing railroad tracks to create new transit services in Brooklyn and Queens – and has long been a priority for RPA,” Tom Wright, RPA President & CEO, said in a statement.

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards also voiced enthusiasm over the prospect of the Inter-Borough Express. “[F]or far too many Queens families, and the communities they call home, the inability to travel between boroughs in a quick and efficient manner has been an unnecessary detriment to their economic vitality,” he said in a statement.

Richards lauded the potential of “new employment opportunities in each borough, while dramatically cutting commute times in the process.” According to the governor’s office, the Inter-Borough Express would bring the corridor, which already has 900,000 residents and 260,000 jobs, an additional 41,000 people and 15,000 jobs over the next three decades, with end-to-end commute times of roughly 40 minutes.

Hochul also sees using the Bay Ridge branch route for freight transport, which could cut down on congestion and pollution. She asked the Port Authority to complete an environmental review for the Cross Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel, another pipe dream project that has been kicked around since … the 1890s.

(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)

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