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Around the Horn

BREAKING: MTA Begins Study of Bay Ridge Branch Passenger Service

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One (big) step closer to Triboro RX becoming a reality...

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today announced that it has awarded a contract to an engineering firm to begin studying the feasibility of initiating passenger service to a freight-only rail line running from Bay Ridge / Sunset Park, Brooklyn, through to Astoria, Queens. The southern part of the line is owned by MTA Long Island Rail Road and used exclusively for freight trains operated by the New York & Atlantic Railway. The northern part is owned by CSX Transportation, a freight railroad.

The study will evaluate the potential for subway, commuter rail, light rail or bus service that would operate in conjunction with existing and planned freight rail service to help residents travel within Brooklyn and Queens and create a potential for reverse commutation to suburban destinations.

http://www.mta.info/press-release/mta-headquarters/mta-begins-study-bay-ridge-branch-passenger-service?fbclid=IwAR3dBE1ktmUWpr52sn0jT-WlHqTsNcNC4aAjYO3s4bnDGd93XmJwpcjF1A4

Edited by Around the Horn
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From looking at the aerial map, it appears the line has room for 4 tracks in the following sections:

- 2 Av (BK) to 14 Av (BK)

- Glenwood Rd (BK) to just before the bridge over the Montauk Branch (QNS)

with the rest having enough space for 2 tracks.

Assuming the freight operation only needs 1 track, this means there are significant portions of the ROW that would have to be upgraded to a minimum of 3 tracks from 2 tracks, unless they use FRA-compliant equipment for passenger service on this line.

On the parts where the ROW is wide enough for 4 tracks, the layout can be as follows (North to South, or West to East):

- Freight Track

- Southwest-bound Triboro RX

- Empty trackway, or station platform

- Northeast-bound Triboro RX

This would generally require only a single platform and elevator per station, cutting costs as opposed to building side-platform stations.

Lastly, a real connection could probably be built between this ROW and the (L) between Livonia and New Lots Avenues. This would give the Triboro RX equipment access to ENY Yard, and possibly give the opportunity for an (L) branch to go down some of the Triboro RX, if that ever becomes desirable.

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I hear if you say "TriboroRX" three times fast in the bathroom mirror, the cost rises by $1B.

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On 1/22/2020 at 3:48 PM, Around the Horn said:

This is going to be pretty popular for Sunset Park, Elmhurst, and Flushing residents/businesses. Flushing is like the central business district for Chinese and Koreans. If they skimp on the number of stations on this line, it’ll be a pretty quick trip between Woodside and Sunset Park with only approximately 17 stations from 2 Avenue in Brooklyn to Jackson Heights. How they will align things up in Jackson Heights is not very obvious, but there are a lot of creative ways to get the best connections:

  • Build no new right-of-way. Continue on existing right-of-way with a station connecting to both 69 Street–Fisk Avenue ((7)) and possibly 65 Street ((E)(M)(R)).
  • North of Queens Boulevard, build a ramp and tunnel under 73 Street to Roosevelt Avenue and Broadway. Transfer is available to the (7)(E)(F)(M)(R) without the long passageways needed by the lazy alignment. The tunnel ends there, as there’s no obvious cheap way to get to Astoria by following the street grid.
  • Build both of the above—first the tunnel to Roosevelt Avenue and Broadway, then the lazy alignment as a final phase.

I don’t know what the construction phases of the line might look like, but they really need to put stations down in some of Queens’ or Brooklyn’s transit deserts first and anchor it to some useful lines at both ends. While it would be nice to connect a lot of existing stations from the get-go, it’s a lot of construction that doesn’t serve any new areas. There are 2 segments that should be built first:

  • East 14 Street ((Q)), Nostrand–Flatbush Avenues ((2)(5)), Utica Avenue–Kings Highway, Remsen Avenue, and Livonia Avenue ((3)(L))
  • Metropolitan Avenue ((M)), Eliot Avenue, Grand Avenue, Queens Boulevard, and Jackson Heights–Roosevelt Avenue ((7)(E)(F)(M)(R))

A subsequent phase might involve connecting the above two segments by adding stations at Atlantic Avenue ((L)), Broadway Junction ((A)(C)(J)(Z)(L)), and Fresh Pond Road. If there’s any money and political will left, connect the rest of the dots to Sunset Park and extend into Astoria with stations at Northern Boulevard, Astoria Boulevard, 31 Street ((N)(W)), and 21 Street.

This should be complete over a two-century timeline.

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18 minutes ago, CenSin said:

How they will align things up in Jackson Heights is not very obvious, but there are a lot of creative ways to get the best connections:

  • Build no new right-of-way. Continue on existing right-of-way with a station connecting to both 69 Street–Fisk Avenue ((7)) and possibly 65 Street ((E)(M)(R)).
  • North of Queens Boulevard, build a ramp and tunnel under 73 Street to Roosevelt Avenue and Broadway. Transfer is available to the (7)(E)(F)(M)(R) without the long passageways needed by the lazy alignment. The tunnel ends there, as there’s no obvious cheap way to get to Astoria by following the street grid.
  • Build both of the above—first the tunnel to Roosevelt Avenue and Broadway, then the lazy alignment as a final phase.

The ROW is only 550 feet from the far ends of Jackson Heights - Roosevelt Av and 74 St Broadway. That's shorter than the tunnel between Times Square and PABT. So you could build the lazy option and still get a pretty good transfer to the expresses.

 

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19 minutes ago, bobtehpanda said:

The ROW is only 550 feet from the far ends of Jackson Heights - Roosevelt Av and 74 St Broadway. That's shorter than the tunnel between Times Square and PABT. So you could build the lazy option and still get a pretty good transfer to the expresses.

If optimizing for walking effort, it does make more sense to cut out the (E) and (F) as a transfer option by building a shorter passageway to less distant platforms. The right-of-way has the added advantage of being right next to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway over there. It could certainly connect to an elevated structure over the southbound side of the expressway, bringing it a mere 200 feet from the 69 Street–Fisk Avenue platforms and 300 feet from 65 Street platforms.

The Broadway/Roosevelt Avenue/74 Street hub does have the bus station going for it though. It might be worth it to peel away from the railroad right-of-way to a tunnel under 72 Street before merging back with it. That would put it at a mere 400 feet from the IND mezzanine and 225 feet from the IRT platforms. From the railroad, there’s got to be at least 650 feet of distance from the IND mezzanine and 550 feet from the IRT platforms.

You’re right about Times Square. The (A)(C)(E) and (N)(Q)(R)(W) platforms at Time Square–42 Street are about 1,300 feet apart (walking distance). And the Court Square station has 1,000 feet between the (E)(M) platforms and the (7) platforms. They are paragons of terrible transfers.

The transfer between the 4 Avenue and Brighton platforms at Atlantic Avenue–Barclays Center, however, already crosses my threshold at only 550 feet, while the 300-feet sprint down the stairs at 74 Street–Broadway fits snugly in my comfort zone. (I can’t speak for people who are less able-bodied.)

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2 hours ago, CenSin said:

If optimizing for walking effort, it does make more sense to cut out the (E) and (F) as a transfer option by building a shorter passageway to less distant platforms. The right-of-way has the added advantage of being right next to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway over there. It could certainly connect to an elevated structure over the southbound side of the expressway, bringing it a mere 200 feet from the 69 Street–Fisk Avenue platforms and 300 feet from 65 Street platforms.

The problem I have with having it stop at a QBL local stop instead of an express stop is that this is supposed to speed up commutes between Brooklyn and Queens. Many riders that will be using this will not be coming to or from a place that is directly on the RX; those riders will have 3-seat rides even with an express connection. A 4-seat ride and you may as well pay those riders to take a rideshare or drive.

It's not as if connecting to a local is particularly difficult at Jackson Heights, either.

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Looking at the ROW, it does seem that it would be better to connect to 74 St in Jackson Heights, as there are more transfer opportunities there.

I wonder what people think of building a branch to LGA off of this line.  North of Jackson Heights station area, a branch can follow the BQE to GC to LGA.  This is not as good as a connection to the Astoria line, which I know is largely favored by people on here, but to me it seems to be a far better way to reach LGA than the Airtrain to Willets Point.  It can connect to the QB express lines in Jackson Heights, for a quick trip to Manhattan.  But it can also connect to all of the Brooklyn subways that will reach the Bay Ridge line, allowing people in Brooklyn to reach LGA without traveling to Manhattan.

The idea is that a branch from Bronx (and Randalls Island) and Astoria will merge with a branch from LGA to form a trunk line from Jackson Heights to Bay Ridge via ENY and Brooklyn College.  LGA is a real destination, so there would be traffic actually wanting this line, as opposed to using it merely as a circumferential to connect between two radials for trips between Eastern Queens and Southern Brooklyn.

 

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2 hours ago, mrsman said:

Looking at the ROW, it does seem that it would be better to connect to 74 St in Jackson Heights, as there are more transfer opportunities there.

I wonder what people think of building a branch to LGA off of this line.  North of Jackson Heights station area, a branch can follow the BQE to GC to LGA.  This is not as good as a connection to the Astoria line, which I know is largely favored by people on here, but to me it seems to be a far better way to reach LGA than the Airtrain to Willets Point.  It can connect to the QB express lines in Jackson Heights, for a quick trip to Manhattan.  But it can also connect to all of the Brooklyn subways that will reach the Bay Ridge line, allowing people in Brooklyn to reach LGA without traveling to Manhattan.

The idea is that a branch from Bronx (and Randalls Island) and Astoria will merge with a branch from LGA to form a trunk line from Jackson Heights to Bay Ridge via ENY and Brooklyn College.  LGA is a real destination, so there would be traffic actually wanting this line, as opposed to using it merely as a circumferential to connect between two radials for trips between Eastern Queens and Southern Brooklyn.

 

To be quite honest, I don't think that service to LGA should be a branch. It should be the main line.

The ROW north of Jackson Heights is extremely challenging given that it has much higher demand. Hell Gate is used for freight, Amtrak, and soon PSA, and that doesn't leave a whole lotta room for others. Astoria was also called out in the Penn Station Access study as very challenging to build; it's much higher than Astoria-Ditmars, and the existing line is not flat in that area. Coupled with the lousy connections it could lead to in the Bronx, I don't think it's a very good Bronx-Queens line either.

If you were to extend north to LGA, the Sound is a pretty shallow body of water; you could tunnel under to Hunts Point and then effectively replace the Bx6, but that's getting a little ahead of ourselves.

Edited by bobtehpanda
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3 hours ago, bobtehpanda said:

To be quite honest, I don't think that service to LGA should be a branch. It should be the main line.

The ROW north of Jackson Heights is extremely challenging given that it has much higher demand. Hell Gate is used for freight, Amtrak, and soon PSA, and that doesn't leave a whole lotta room for others. Astoria was also called out in the Penn Station Access study as very challenging to build; it's much higher than Astoria-Ditmars, and the existing line is not flat in that area. Coupled with the lousy connections it could lead to in the Bronx, I don't think it's a very good Bronx-Queens line either.

If you were to extend north to LGA, the Sound is a pretty shallow body of water; you could tunnel under to Hunts Point and then effectively replace the Bx6, but that's getting a little ahead of ourselves.

From a cursory look at the aerial map, assuming the line stays on the existing ROW, it appears the northernmost point in Queens where a station can be built is between 44th and 46th Streets near Astoria Blvd (assuming we want to avoid extensive structural modifications to the bridge). After that, the next convenient place for a station is up in Port Morris.

Diverting the line to LGA may work, but it could require some complicated engineering near the highway interchanges. If the stations are placed strategically, this alignment would certainly do a better job of serving Queens residents than the stub to eastern Astoria would.

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In my view, if there is really no hope to get to the Bronx, then there is certainly no need to get to Astoria alone and it makes even more sense to route it, in some way, to LGA.

The best way for Astoria to connect to the rest of Queens would be a transfer from Q Plaza to Qboro Plaza.

 

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On 1/24/2020 at 5:59 PM, bobtehpanda said:

To be quite honest, I don't think that service to LGA should be a branch. It should be the main line.

The ROW north of Jackson Heights is extremely challenging given that it has much higher demand. Hell Gate is used for freight, Amtrak, and soon PSA, and that doesn't leave a whole lotta room for others. Astoria was also called out in the Penn Station Access study as very challenging to build; it's much higher than Astoria-Ditmars, and the existing line is not flat in that area. Coupled with the lousy connections it could lead to in the Bronx, I don't think it's a very good Bronx-Queens line either.

If you were to extend north to LGA, the Sound is a pretty shallow body of water; you could tunnel under to Hunts Point and then effectively replace the Bx6, but that's getting a little ahead of ourselves.

I’ll agree that the existing ROW would have lousy connections in The Bronx and that the best way for the RX to have better connections there would be to have it turn west off the ROW and into a crosstown subway along the Bx6 corridor. But yes, it would be expensive and a bit tricky to build because the Bx6 isn’t exactly a straight shot across the borough from Hunts Point Avenue ( (6) ) to River Avenue ( (B)(D)(4) ). 

On 1/24/2020 at 9:59 PM, P3F said:

From a cursory look at the aerial map, assuming the line stays on the existing ROW, it appears the northernmost point in Queens where a station can be built is between 44th and 46th Streets near Astoria Blvd (assuming we want to avoid extensive structural modifications to the bridge). After that, the next convenient place for a station is up in Port Morris.

Diverting the line to LGA may work, but it could require some complicated engineering near the highway interchanges. If the stations are placed strategically, this alignment would certainly do a better job of serving Queens residents than the stub to eastern Astoria would.

There’s really no point of having the RX terminate in Astoria, presumably on the ROW. If they’re going to do that, then they might as well continue into The Bronx. LGA would be a much better place to terminate than Astoria. It would have much greater coverage of north-central Queens.

10 hours ago, mrsman said:

In my view, if there is really no hope to get to the Bronx, then there is certainly no need to get to Astoria alone and it makes even more sense to route it, in some way, to LGA.

The best way for Astoria to connect to the rest of Queens would be a transfer from Q Plaza to Qboro Plaza.

 

They should have connected Queens Plaza to Queensboro Plaza ages ago. 

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On 1/26/2020 at 10:33 AM, T to Dyre Avenue said:

 

 

 

They should have connected Queens Plaza to Queensboro Plaza ages ago. 

Not that easy. One is a pretty high el, the other underground. It would work if they were on top of each other, but they are at least 4 blocks apart. Some heavy engineering for the ramps, stairs, escalators, elevators, and underground passageways that would be needed.

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On 1/27/2020 at 4:56 PM, Italianstallion said:

Not that easy. One is a pretty high el, the other underground. It would work if they were on top of each other, but they are at least 4 blocks apart. Some heavy engineering for the ramps, stairs, escalators, elevators, and underground passageways that would be needed.

Yeah.

I wish the city would expand the Midtown East type rezonings (fund MTA improvements to stations = get more buildable square footage) across the city. It would be a lot easier to do an elevated connection through the new buildings being built.

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On 1/22/2020 at 7:15 PM, P3F said:

From looking at the aerial map, it appears the line has room for 4 tracks in the following sections:

 

I hope they leave room for the Cross-Brooklyn Expressway 😊

 

On 1/27/2020 at 7:56 PM, Italianstallion said:

Not that easy. One is a pretty high el, the other underground. It would work if they were on top of each other, but they are at least 4 blocks apart. Some heavy engineering for the ramps, stairs, escalators, elevators, and underground passageways that would be needed.

 

3 hours ago, bobtehpanda said:

Yeah.

I wish the city would expand the Midtown East type rezonings (fund MTA improvements to stations = get more buildable square footage) across the city. It would be a lot easier to do an elevated connection through the new buildings being built.

The El is directly above the QB line at Queens Blvd & Northern, couldn't they have an elevator(and some stairs/escalators) directly up from the IND mez to the EL, then have a walkway on EL's girders to the east end of the lower level's platform?

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2 hours ago, N6 Limited said:

The El is directly above the QB line at Queens Blvd & Northern, couldn't they have an elevator(and some stairs/escalators) directly up from the IND mez to the EL, then have a walkway on EL's girders to the east end of the lower level's platform?

You can't just bolt things onto structures that were never designed for them.

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1 hour ago, bobtehpanda said:

You can't just bolt things onto structures that were never designed for them.

Conversely, how hard would it be to cut & cover some kind of passageway under the center of Roosevelt Ave? Since the El supports are on the sidewalk, I don't think it would be structurally compromised. Just suspend parking for the duration of the project and have vehicles use the parking lanes, similarly to how the (MTA) rehabilitated the express tracks on 4th Avenue south of 39th Street.

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47 minutes ago, P3F said:

Conversely, how hard would it be to cut & cover some kind of passageway under the center of Roosevelt Ave? Since the El supports are on the sidewalk, I don't think it would be structurally compromised. Just suspend parking for the duration of the project and have vehicles use the parking lanes, similarly to how the (MTA) rehabilitated the express tracks on 4th Avenue south of 39th Street.

Roosevelt Avenue? They're talking about a passageway between Queens Plaza and QBP in LIC, where the el is in the center of Queens Blvd.

In general, building new passageways under the street in this city is fraught with difficulties due to the bad traffic and the unknowns of where exactly utilities are located. It's why these capacity expansion projects or transfers generally get built as part of new developments where they're digging up the ground anyways. Examples:

  • Court Square
  • Grand Central (with One Vanderbilt)
Edited by bobtehpanda

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37 minutes ago, bobtehpanda said:

Roosevelt Avenue? They're talking about a passageway between Queens Plaza and QBP in LIC, where the el is in the center of Queens Blvd.

In general, building new passageways under the street in this city is fraught with difficulties due to the bad traffic and the unknowns of where exactly utilities are located. It's why these capacity expansion projects or transfers generally get built as part of new developments where they're digging up the ground anyways. Examples:

  • Court Square
  • Grand Central (with One Vanderbilt)

Ah, my mistake. I didn't read carefully enough; I thought the conversation was about a connection to the Roosevelt Avenue - 74th Street / Broadway complex.

Edited by P3F

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IMO the first phase could be creating a (L) branch to brooklyn college

Next step? Let see if (MTA) goes bankrupt after finished the first phase 😴

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13 hours ago, bobtehpanda said:

You can't just bolt things onto structures that were never designed for them.

There are basically supports that allow for track supporting girders. Walkways are a lot lighter than trains, no?

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