BY JON CRONIN
On Feb. 7, former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley announced that her proposed light rail from Jamaica through Maspeth to Long Island City would cost $2.2 billion.
A $500,000 study was conducted by AECOM engineering consulting services, which stated in its report that the passenger service would cost $1.1 billion and infrastructure upgrades would cost an additional $1.1 billion.
In a statement, Crowley pointed out that the 8.5-mile line with 10 stations would cost 90 percent less than the three-mile Second Avenue subway extension.
The plan speculates that the light rail could be paid for by $480 million from the sale of air rights, $309 million from tax increment financing, $100 million from transit-orientated development and an estimated $15 million in fare revenue.
The transit infrastructure will cost $914 million, while the fleet will cost $150 million and maintenance equipment would total $15 million. The yard and maintenance facility will be $32 million.
The service would run 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and then transfer back to freight only. The trains would run between six- and 25-minute intervals depending on the time of day.
“Approximately 21,000 riders per weekday and 5.8 million riders annually would use the service, assuming a $2.75 fare, a free transfer to MTA bus or subway, and relatively frequent service throughout the day,” the study said.
Crowley stated that many City Council members are on board with the plan and the concept has been approved by Queen Borough President Melinda Katz, who added it to her recent State of the Borough Address, as well as Queens community boards 2, 5, 6, 9 and 12.
In the study, AECOM stated that some of the at-grade crossings—such as the 88th Street crossing in Glendale and the Maspeth Avenue crossing in Maspeth, where a freight train hit a truck two years ago—would have to be redesigned to create overpasses. The costs of these changes are factored in to the estimate.
Crowley believes that the plan would provide relief to the overcapacity on the E and L lines as well as serve approximately 200,000 people who live within a half-mile of the line.
At an information meeting that Crowley held in June, some community members were concerned about potential vibrations and noise disturbance that the train could cause. Such disturbances were not explored in the study.
The district’s current councilman, Bob Holden (D-Glendale), has stated that he does not support the concept and cited among his reasons its expense, issues with the at-grade crossings and having to rebuild bridges of advanced age.