Hochul, MTA Say Interborough Express Between Brooklyn and Queens Is Feasible

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Gov. Kathy Hochul released a preliminary feasibility study on the Interborough Express, which would revive 14 miles of derelict railroad between Brooklyn and Queens for commuters, showing the state could get the project off the ground.

Acting Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chair Janno Lieber said there will be a considerable building effort to bring commuter service to the line, which would create up to 20,000 new union jobs, but stated that it is indeed possible with a projected 88,000 daily riders.

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“We’re here to celebrate, as the governor said, the preliminary report, which makes it clear that the project is in fact feasible,” Lieber said. “We need to get more out of the infrastructure we have. In some cases you have to build anew. The Second Avenue subway is using some old tunnels, but a lot of it has to be built anew, bored out of rock.”

The project would link outer-borough residents between Queens and Brooklyn by rail without having to go through Manhattan first, currently only possible through the often maligned G train. It’s estimated to cut commutes times for South Brooklyn residents to 40 minutes from 70 minutes, while providing links to 17 subway lines. About 90,000 people live along the corridor, according to Hochul.

“There’s always another phase when you’re building infrastructure, [from] community engagement in tandem with the environmental impact statements, and [we] do this whole review to identify the smartest way to use this line,” Hochul said. “Is it Bus Rapid Transit, is it light rail? Is it heavy rail? … We don’t have those answers today, but we know we have a path forward.”

While the announcement did not detail the cost of the project or the expected completion date, supporters of the plan were quick to offer their support.

“The Interborough Express is a crucial project for advancing New York’s transportation equity, economic development and climate goals, as the route will connect many of the city’s car-dependent transit deserts with 17 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road,” Kate Slevin, executive vice president for the Regional Plan Association, said in a statement. “By completing the first direct transit connection between Brooklyn and Queens in generations, the Interborough Express is a monumental step forward in moving away from our Manhattan-centric transit system toward a more comprehensive model that will benefit all residents.”

The state moved fast on the feasibility study for the Interborough Express, with Hochul only announcing her plans to seize the opportunity in her State of the State address in early January.

The train line will run through Sunset Park, Borough Park, Kensington, Midwood, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Lots, Brownsville, East New York and Bushwick in Brooklyn along with Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights in Queens.

Mark Hallum can be reached at mhallum@commercialobserver.com.