MTA begins study of Bay Ridge Branch
Passenger cars may once again rumble down a stretch of tracks that’s been moving only freight since 1924. The MTA has started to study the Bay Ridge Branch, an above-ground rail line that runs from Brooklyn Army Terminal in Bay Ridge/Sunset Park to Astoria. The agency kicked off the study period, which will evaluate the feasibility of restoring passenger service to the line, by awarding a $1.3 million contract to engineering firm AECOM and its subcontractor WSP.
“This project is hugely exciting — partly because it is based on the concept of squeezing more out of our already existing infrastructure so we don’t always have to build new subway lines from scratch,” MTA Chief Development Officer Janno Lieber said in a statement.
The Bay Ridge Branch is owned by the Long Island Railroad and CSX. It runs from the waterfront at the BAT, east through Midwood and Flatbush, veers north in Flatlands, travels through Brownsville, East New York, Bushwick and parts of western Queens and then terminates in Astoria. The 16-mile route offers potential points of transfer with 16 MTA-operated subway lines and the Long Island Railroad.
Resurrecting the Bay Ridge Branch for passenger trains would be the first step in realizing the larger Triboro RX plan, first put forward by public transit advocacy group the Regional Plan Association in 1996.
The Triboro would connect Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, making 22 stops, linking up 17 subway lines and four commuter rail lines and shaving precious tens of minutes off commutes between the “outer” boroughs. The RPA has said this is a necessary change, since the city’s job growth is no longer concentrated in Manhattan as it was when the subway tunnels were dug over 115 years ago.
“The line runs through a lot of communities that don’t have excellent rail service right now, including ‘transit deserts’ where there’s limited rail,” said RPA Senior Vice President of State Programs and Advocacy Kate Slevin during an October panel discussion about the proposal.
The RPA estimates that the total cost for all 24 miles of the Triboro would be between $1 and $2 billion, a relative steal in a city that spent $2.7 billion per mile on the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway extension.
Critics have pointed out that mixing passenger and freight trains, as the proposal calls for, could present scheduling challenges. In cities like London and Chicago, the two uses already co-exist.
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment