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Gov. Hochul Says Proposed Brooklyn-Queens Rail Service Would Connect Nearly 1 Million Residents To More Subway Lines, LIRR

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- In her State of the State address Wednesday, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced plans to expand transit service between Brooklyn and Queens with what she's calling the Interborough Express.

It would be a new rail service from Bay Ridge to Jackson Heights built on 14 miles of existing freight tracks.

"It's definitely a journey getting to Queens," Bay Ridge resident Brandon Cavorsi said.

"I've directed the MTA to immediately commence an environmental review so we can get that project rolling down the track," Hochul said.

The governor claims travel time end-to-end will be less than 40 minutes and connect an estimated 900,000 people to 17 subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road.

"This now gives people a chance to go from one neighborhood to the other without having to rely on a car, without having to take a subway to Downtown Brooklyn, then take another subway all the way back out," State Sen. Andrew Gounardes told CBS2's Ali Bauman.

He believes the expansion will incentivize development near the line.

"You can have affordable housing, new jobs, small businesses," Gounardes said.

"Any ways we can generate tourism, connect people to jobs, is a major step in the right direction in addressing inequality in this borough," Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said.

The proposal has been around the block. The Regional Plan Association has been pushing for versions of the Interborough Express for decades.

"The need that has existed for a long time is finally aligning with some of the political reality that are needed to make sure that New Yorkers are thriving in their own communities," said Maulin Mehta, the RPA's New York director.

Mehta says the city needs the added lines more than ever as severe weather is increasingly paralyzing our current transit system.

"So when there is another storm that might knock out subway systems, we'll be able to have this other network that can get people around the city," he said.

One critic is Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, who, in a statement, says she's concerned neither the governor nor the MTA "briefed our office or community."

"If it would cut down the commute time, that'd be a great thing for everybody in the community," Bay Ridge resident Hal Oteo said.

The MTA will have to decide whether the new line will be heavy rail, light rail or bus rapid transit, and it's still unclear how much this will cost riders and taxpayers.

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