Our neighborhood as it was – QNS.com

For many residents of Our Neighborhood in Queens, there just aren’t enough ways to get around without a car.

The Greater Ridgewood area is primarily served by two subway lines: the M train, which runs through the heart of Ridgewood and terminates in Middle Village, and the L train, which straddles the Brooklyn/Queens border with a few Ridgewood stops along in the manner.

Residents of Glendale and Middle Village have a long walk (or bus ride) to get to the Middle Village-Metropolitan Avenue stop on the M line – the closest subway stop to most community residents. Maspeth residents have the worst: they don’t have access to a subway line without a bus ride to Ridgewood, Middle Village, Elmhurst or Woodside.

Over the past few years, elected officials in our community have advocated for the creation of additional transit options to serve the area. Former councilor Elizabeth Crowley proposed a light rail line along the Lower Montauk branch of the Long Island Rail Road, which is currently used to transport waste and industrial freight. Current Councilman Robert Holden, meanwhile, supports the creation of the Triboro RX, a brainchild of the Regional Plan Association that would use commuter and freight lines to create a new rail line serving Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx.

Photo by Michael Shain

But long before these ideas saw the light of day, the city had proposed creating a new subway line that would run through the heart of Ridgewood, Glendale and Middle Village – but was firmly rejected by residents at the time.

It was called the “Montauk Options” and would have extended a new subway line along the aforementioned Lower Montauk branch of the LIRR. We are grateful to transit expert Joe Raskin for providing us with some details about the proposal:

The Montauk options were part of the Queens Underground Options Study, which was intended to somehow restart work on some of the lines planned under the 1968 “New Routes” plan. Work was underway for the 63rd Street and Archer Avenue lines, as well as the Second Avenue subway when the city’s budget crisis of the 1970s and 80s halted work.

The original plan called for the 63rd Street line to extend into Forest Hills, connecting to the Queens Boulevard line near Yellowstone Boulevard. It would have done this by using the right-of-way along the LIRR’s mainline, with land acquisition required at Woodside (the right-of-way was essentially the roadbed once used by the Rockaway Beach line between Woodside and Rego Park).

Trains would also run to Rosedale via the upper level of the Archer Avenue line and the LIRR right-of-way. The part of the tunnel that was built (from the Jamaica Center-Parsons/Archer station to a point somewhere between Liberty Avenue and South Road) is now used to drop off E trains.

The study was basically a “Where do we go from here?” thing. There were, in fact, five options:

  • Let’s go back to the original plan of a connection at Forest Hills, with no physical connection between the 63rd Street and Queens Boulevard lines in Long Island City, except for a transfer station at Queens Plaza. The planning commission carried out a comprehensive study of how the Queens Plaza area could be built around the new station.
  • Connecting the two lines to Long Island City. Essentially, it would evolve into what was built; the plan originally called for connection only with local routes.
  • The Montauk-LIRR option, terminating the 63rd Street line at a new Queens Plaza station, putting passengers on LIRR trains there, which would have run the Montauk line to Jamaica and points beyond. of the.
  • The Montauk-Subway option, which would have connected 63rd Street to the Montauk line, incorporating it into the subway system (Queens Plaza station would also have been built, it would have connected to the J line at Lefferts Boulevard, going to Lower level of Archer Ave. In order to build this, the J line as it then existed would have been truncated west of Richmond Hill (I blanked out where the last stop would have been).
  • Do not do anything.

A whole series of meetings were held about it, culminating in an MTA public hearing in 1984. The original plan met with much opposition in Woodside and Forest Hills, due to the scale of the land acquisition and the construction impact that would have been required.

I don’t remember where the tunnel portal in Forest Hills would have been built, but how the actual connection would have been built in Forest Hills is unimaginable.

The two Montauk options encountered huge opposition along this line at Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Richmond Hill. Al D’Amato spoke at the public hearing against them. Many things were cited including greatly increased line usage, vibration and the need to eliminate level crossings.

There was very little support in the communities of southeast Queens, who would have benefited the most from the Montauk options, other than (to his great credit) Archie Spigner, who spoke out in favor of them at the hearing. public.

As a result, the MTA had no choice but to go with what eventually evolved into the line that was built.

This line, as Raskin mentioned, is the 63rd Street Line which connects Midtown Manhattan and western Queens via the F line, which entered service in 1989. It also includes a stop at Roosevelt Island, the only connection train to residential island in the heart of the East River.

One can only imagine the impact an extended subway line through Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village would have on the community today.

To our knowledge, other concerns have been raised, such as the potential electrification of the Lower Montauk line to allow subway cars to run along it. It was a valid concern, given the level nature of the line and the propensity for trespassers to cross the tracks, as seen in this photo from the 1980s.

Teenage trespassers along the LIRR tracks in Glendale (Ridgewood Times archive)

Until March 1998, the LIRR ran diesel-powered commuter trains along the Lower Montauk line during morning and afternoon rush hours. These trains stopped at Richmond Hill (near Lefferts Boulevard and Jamaica Avenue), Glendale (near 73rd Street and Edsall Avenue), Fresh Pond (near Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road at the Ridgewood/Middle Village border), Haberman (Rust and 50th Street in Industrial Maspeth) and Penny Bridge (Review Avenue and Laurel Hill Boulevard in Long Island City).

At the time service was canceled along the line, only a handful of passengers were using the trains at peak times. Many of these stops were barely built as stations; Glendale station, for example, lacked platforms, with passengers waiting for trains on the ground on either side of the tracks. Upon arrival, drivers would lower a small stepladder to allow passengers to board and depart.

This 1911 photo shows the LIRR Lower Montauk branch near Glendale Station. (Ridgewood Times Archive/Courtesy Greater Ridgewood Historical Society)

Part of the reason for the lack of usage may be the lack of a direct connection through the Montauk branch in Manhattan; it terminates in Long Island City and passengers bound for Manhattan should walk to the Vernon Boulevard-Jackson Avenue or Hunters Point Avenue stops on the 7 line.

Meanwhile, in southeast Queens, the region’s main rail service is two passenger lines on the LIRR with stops in neighborhoods such as St. Albans, Laurelton and Rosedale. Service is infrequent and expensive; in recent years, the city and the MTA have agreed to a discounted ticket program called “Atlantic Ticket” to make LIRR travel more affordable for area residents.

If the subway line proposed nearly 40 years ago had become a reality, rides on that line would be at the standard New York City Transit fare of $2.75.

Elder’s note: Mr. Raskin chronicles it in his acclaimed book, “The Untraveled Routes: A Journey Through New York City’s Unbuilt Subway System.” It is available for purchase at Amazon and at local booksellers – and you can also borrow it from Borough of Queens Public Library.

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Share your story with us by emailing [email protected] (subject: Our Neighborhood: The Way It Was) or write to The Old Timer, ℅ Ridgewood Times, 38-15 Bell Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361. All photos sent by post will be carefully returned to you on request.

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