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KPF outlines proposal to bring trains to transportation desert

Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF) has released a vision for a new Queens rail line.

Working with the Queens Chamber of Commerce and former Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, KPF studied how the new line could be created by repurposing an 8.5 mile stretch of the Lower Montauk Branch line.

According to KPF, a new QNS line could stimulate economic development, encourage affordable housing, promote resiliency, and lead to the repurposing existing assets to ensure its viability.

KPF’s vision compliments a feasibility study completed by AECOM for the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) on transit services to Maspeth, Long Island City, North Brooklyn and Jamaica.

The implementation of the QNS is uniquely attainable in the near future, according to the planners.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) owns the full right-of-way of the existing rail line, allowing improvement without eminent domain. KPF’s vision shows that the QNS lies within a half-mile of sites with over 129 million square feet of currently unused development rights, allowing growth without zoning changes or increased density.

Where currently zoned for residential, these rights could result in 72,000 new apartments in neighborhoods where median housing costs are 40 percent below the city average.

According to the study, without major rezoning or shifts in land use, greater transit access could catalyze economic opportunity for the area’s predominantly middle and working class population.

Previously used for freight, the existing rail line could also support passenger access from Jamaica Station to Long Island City directly through what is currently a public transportation desert.

Hence, the reactivated line would provide service to several neighborhoods currently out of reasonable travel distance from the City’s central business districts (including Maspeth, Ridgewood, Fresh Pond, Middle Village and Glendale), and reduce times for many Queens residents such as the 40 percent of those who commute within the borough.

The QNS would add system capacity, increase system resiliency, relieve pressure on the Queens Boulevard Line (E, F, G, R), and allow for less disruptive repairs to the L train.

Repurposing the QNS rail line to accommodate passengers has an estimated cost is of $2.2 billion, which, stretched across 8.5 miles of track, calculates to a full build out of $260 million per mile.

By comparison, the 2nd Avenue Subway cost $2.5 billion per mile, totaling $4.5 billion over 1.8 miles.

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