Community members interested in learning about the MTA’s proposed project to build an Interborough Express (IBX) from Bay Ridge to Jackson Heights packed the room at the first of three in-person meetings at Brooklyn College, 2705 Campus Road, on Wednesday, November 8th.
Governor Kathy Hochul announced the meetings as a part of a pre-planning process begun last January when she directed the MTA to begin an environmental review for the project. The process and project design will begin this winter and take two years to complete.
Light rail has since been chosen as the best mode of transit. Planning and environmental linkage studies were released, with virtual and in-person town hall events planned to share information and garner feedback.
According to the MTA, the entire rapid transit route would take about 40 minutes, connecting up to 17 subway lines, as well as the Long Island Rail Road and CSX freight lines.
It could potentially serve 115,000 daily weekday rides, with a projected completion date in 2027 and cost of $5.5 billion, depending on funding. It’s designed to provide transportation to underserved areas where 900,000 residents live in neighborhoods along the proposed route and more than a third are below the poverty line.
Although many were excited by the prospect of increased and faster transportation options for Brooklyn and Queens, there were also others with concerns about displacement, noise and other construction-related issues near residential areas.
Such concerns were raised at a February civic meeting in Flatlands. Residents were told to speak to MTA and State officials while the proposed route was in the planning phase to make it very clear that the MTA would have to preserve the interests of the homeowners who live along the track.
“It’s really shocking to me that a lot of people in our area don’t know about what’s happening in their own neighborhood,” Flatlands resident Devin LaPierre, 34, told the Canarsie Courier. Most people he has spoken to didn’t know about the proposed IBX project or the meeting.
Living in a two-fare zone, LaPierre attended the event because he was interested in how the IBX proposal could cut his travel time. He currently takes a bus and two trains to get to work so he is excited, yet skeptical, about the project because of previous MTA proposals that fizzled.
“The number of people it’s going to serve, versus the number of people it’s going to disturb, is just ridiculous,” Gerard Brewster, president of the Utica to Flatbush Initiatives, told the Canarsie Courier. He was concerned about the expansion from one to two or more tracks to widen and expand the rail line, creating a lot of dirt and dust in his backyard.
Community Board 18 member Denise Gourdine agreed. She lives in the Philip Howard apartments on Flatbush Avenue. “The rail that goes by now is for freight trains and when they go by, the whole building shakes, maybe once every week or every two weeks, but now we’re talking about constant train track traffic,” she said.
LaPierre said that he understands about neighborhood concerns but also asks why other neighborhoods have easy access to transportation and his area doesn’t.
“I’m excited to see what changes this will bring for southern Brooklyn, especially in the neighborhood of Flatlands,” he said.
For more information on the project and upcoming Town Halls, visit https://new.mta.info/project/interborough-express. Submit feedback at https://contact.mta.info/s/forms/interborough-express