NEW YORK – New York Gov. Kathy Hochul Wednesday announced plans to move forward with the Interborough Express as part of her 2022 State of the State address. The Interborough Express project would use the existing right-of-way of the Bay Ridge Branch, a freight rail line that runs through Brooklyn and Queens, connecting the neighborhoods of Sunset Park, Borough Park, Kensington, Midwood, Flatbush, Flatlands, New Lots, Brownsville, East New York, Bushwick, Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights with several new stations in communities not currently served by rail transit.
The 14-mile Bay Ridge Branch is owned by the Long Island Rail Road and operated by the New York & Atlantic Railway. It is the longest freight-only line of the LIRR, connecting the Montauk Branch and CSX’s Fremont Secondary to the Hell Gate Bridge at Glendale, Queens, with Upper New York Bay at Bay Ridge in Brooklyn. Carfloat service is provided by New York New Jersey Rail (owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey) that operates between Greenville Yard at Greenville, N.Y., and 65th Street Yard at the Bay Ridge end of the line.
Gov. Hochul directed the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to immediately begin the environmental review process for the project, the first step in building the line that would connect communities in Brooklyn and Queens to as many as 17 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road.
If adopted, the new service would improve transit access to communities along the corridor that is currently home to about 900,000 residents and 260,000 jobs, with growth expected by at least 41,000 people and 15,000 jobs in the next 25 years. For many residents along the corridor, crossing from neighborhood to neighborhood is slow and tedious because existing subway lines are oriented toward Manhattan, even as many new work opportunities, schools, and services are located in the outer boroughs. The project would open connections among neighborhoods, across boroughs, and open up new opportunities for reverse commuting into Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Each day, more than 100,000 commuters make daily trips within or across Brooklyn and Queens, often relying on buses that get caught in traffic. The new route could lead to service that would provide end-to-end travel time of less than 40 minutes, although most trips would be along shorter segments of the line.
In addition to transit service, the existing Bay Ridge Branch can be used to provide harbor rail freight service. Gov. Hochul also directed the Port Authority to complete environmental review for the Cross Harbor Rail Freight Tunnel, a proposed tunnel under Upper New York Bay between northeastern New Jersey and Long Island that would replace the carfloat operation.