Hochul to push for major transportation project
by Shane Miller
Jan 12, 2022 | 2414 views | 0 0 comments | 110 110 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Governor Kathy Hochul made a bold promise that will affect commuters across Queens and Brooklyn during her first State of the State address last week.

The governor announced plans to move forward with the Interborough Express, which would connect communities in Brooklyn and Queens to as many as 17 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road.

Hochul is directing the MTA to immediately begin the environmental review process for the project, the first step in building the major infrastructure investment.

"It's time to invest in the bold, cutting-edge infrastructure projects that will make a real difference in the lives of everyday New Yorkers," Hochul said. "New Yorkers deserve reliable public transit that connects them from work to home and everywhere in between.

“The Interborough Express would be a transformational addition to Brooklyn and Queens, cutting down on travel time and helping neighborhoods and communities become cleaner, greener and more equitable," she added.

The project would use the existing right of way of the Bay Ridge Branch, a freight rail line that runs through Brooklyn and Queens, connecting the neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Borough Park, Kensington, Midwood, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Lots, Brownsville, East New York, Bushwick, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights with several new stations in communities not currently served by rail transit.

If fully realized, the new service would improve transit and job access in communities along the corridor, which is currently home to about 900,000 residents and 260,000 jobs, and with growth expected by at least 41,000 people and 15,000 jobs in the next 25 years.

“Governor Hochul's proposed Interborough Express would dramatically improve access to the city for millions of people in Brooklyn and Queens,” said Danny Pearlstein, policy and communications director for the Riders Alliance. “The governor should maximize its value to New Yorkers with frequent and affordable service and connections to high speed, high capacity bus routes to neighborhoods far from the subway.”

For many residents along this corridor, crossing from neighborhood to neighborhood is slow and tedious because existing subway lines are oriented towards Manhattan, even as many new work opportunities, schools, and services are located in the outer boroughs.

Each day, more than 100,000 commuters make daily trips within or across Brooklyn and Queens, often relying on buses that get caught in traffic along a tangled and crowded street network.

Results from this historic and necessary step could lead to a new service that would provide end-to-end travel time of less than 40 minutes, although most trips would be along shorter segments of the line.

In addition to transit service, the existing Bay Ridge Branch corridor can service cross harbor rail freight and would dramatically reduce truck congestion regionally and expand goods movement facilities, thereby fortifying supply chains still struggling to recover from the pandemic.

Transportation planners believe that cross harbor rail freight and passenger service on the Interborough Express can work together in concert, which could be a game-changer for the region.

Borough Donovan Richards of Queens vowed to drum up support for the project.

“For far too many Queens families, the inability to travel between boroughs in a quick and efficient manner has been an unnecessary detriment to their economic vitality,” said Richards. “By transforming the existing freight line running between Bay Ridge and Jackson Heights into a public transit option, we can connect thousands of Queens and Brooklyn families to new employment opportunities in each borough.”
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