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Downtown JFK-LIRR Link

A 2004 Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) feasibility study recommended building a direct rail link between Jamaica, Queens and Lower Manhattan by extending the existing Long Island Railroad (LIRR) Atlantic Branch from the Atlantic Terminal in Downtown Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan via a new tunnel beneath the East River. In 2005, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), the MTA, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) initiated the Lower Manhattan-Jamaica/JFK Airport Transportation Project, which would build a direct rail link to John F. Kennedy Airport, effectively creating a “one-seat” trip from Lower Manhattan to the Airport. Commuters traveling from Downtown Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan would also see a 40% reduction in commute times.

While groups supporting the project cite the importance of transit access to Lower Manhattan’s revitalization, several organizations, such as the Straphangers Campaign, the Regional Plan Association, and the Fiscal Policy Institute, have expressed concern that the rail link would come at the expense of more pressing transit priorities such as the Second Avenue Subway and the East Side Access project. Then-Governor Spitzer expressed only tepid support of the plan and while in office, insisted other transportation initiatives should remain a priority.

In 2007, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) pledged $2 billion in unused tax credits made available to New York City after September 11th toward the project, which at the time had a projected cost of $6 billion. The Port Authority committed $560 million to the project, and the MTA committed $400 million. In December 2008, the MTA released a report which indicated that building the rail link would actually cost between $8.6 and $9.9 billion, meaning that a substantial amount of additional funding would be necessary. Mayor Bloomberg has expressed his support for using the $2 billion for 2nd Avenue Subway construction instead of the rail link, while others feel that the funds should go toward Lower Manhattan.

The project is currently on hold.

Last updated: April 23, 2009

This development is closely interlinked with:
Lower Manhattan Development