Red Hook Trolley May Actually Happen

red-hook-trolley-tracks-0510.jpg
After more than a decade of talking about it, the Department of Transportation is taking an important step towards the creation of a light-rail trolley line connecting Red Hook to the start of Brooklyn Bridge Park at Atlantic Avenue; the news would be particularly welcome in light of recent cuts to bus to and from the isolated former industrial neighborhood. Rep. Nydia Velazquez secured $300,000 in funding for a study of the project back in 2005, but the transportation department is only just now drawing down on the funds. Velazquez has a request pending for $10 million to build the project, a number that falls at the low end of estimates by Bob Diamond, who’s been lobbying for the project through his group Brooklyn Historic Railway Association since 1989. You can see a map of BHRA’s proposed route here.
Trolley Good News for Red Hook Rail Plan [NY Post]
Red Hook’s Streetcar Plan Garners Support [Brownstoner]
Resurrecting Red Hook’s Trolley Tracks [Brownstoner]
Could Streetcars Return to Brooklyn? [Brownstoner]
Photo by fldelundell

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  • on the surface of it, sounds like wishful thinking and nostalgia and not really economically feasible or reasonable. Sounds very expensive for little usage.

  • Would Ikea chip in?

  • Love the vintage cobble stamps. BTW, this would be really cool!

    ***Bid half off peak comps***

  • Love the idea !!!

    I think it will be great. Red Hook is a little desolate, which I like, but public transportation is a beesh, so I think this will be good.

  • Bring it all the way downtown!

  • “By Petebklyn on May 18, 2010 9:22 AM

    on the surface of it, sounds like wishful thinking and nostalgia and not really economically feasible or reasonable. Sounds very expensive for little usage.”

    I think you’re right. This is really a 1:1 scale model railroad for Bob Diamond to play with.

  • benson

    Am I the only one cyncial enough to see this for what it is: another hack New York politician trying to get their name in the paper, thanks to another “earmark” appropriation courtesy of the US taxpayer? At a time when the MTA can’t afford to keep up its present level of service, Hack Velazquez pulls an old appropriation out of her a$$ to announce a “study”. Note that the MTA has nothing to do with this study, it would be conducted by the DOT.

    Good grief.

  • Yeah, I’m uncomfortable with this given that MTA is cutting so many things. I would feel better about it if it seemed to serve some kind of legitimate daily transport needs, not just getting to the park.

  • blowfish

    wait, Nydia V. was my rep on the lower east side. Is she in Red Hook now?

  • Umm… Did any of your look at the route map?!

    Jaysus. This looks like a LEGITIMATE and very much overdue trolley line connecting Red Hook to Borough Hall via Richards, Columbia and Atlantic.

    How is this not appropriate? or Needed? Have any of you been to Red Hook?

  • congressional districts include about 600k people…so that would easily span LES and RedHood and lot of other ‘hoods. Especially if designed to include areas with larger hispanic populations.

  • of course I’ve been to RedHook. Plenty of times. I can walk there. Just don’t see enough usage to justify major infrastructure costs.

  • Yeah, and it looks like to get to “Borough Hall” they’re planning on using the Atlantic Avenue tunnel.

    Seems like adding a bus route would be cheaper and infinitely quicker to implement. It would also have the benefit of being more flexible.

    Red Hook may be underserved, but there would seem to be other options.

  • Velasquez’s district is gerrymandered to be a Latino-majority district, so it includes the Lower East Side, Williamsburg,Bushwick, Red Hook Sunset Park.

  • tybur6 – How is this not appropriate? or Needed? Have any of you been to Red Hook.

    We are in a fiscal disaster, existing mass transit (including surface transport) is being cut and some dopey pol wants the Government to spend millions on a new route for a form of transportation that is 1. Totally inflexible 2. Easily replaceable with cheaper and more flexible options (bus) 3. Is entirely unique and will therefore NOT benefit from economies of scale and will therefore cost infinitly more to maintain 4. Serves an area that is generally not densely populated (sans the RHH)

    Since I would like to save $ for the MTA and city I propose that instead that we provide black car vouchers for all Red Hook residents – since no doubt chauffeuring them around would be cheaper than this boondogle waiting to happen.

  • Leucas — We’ve covered the Bus vs. Train issue many many times on this blog.

    Long story short… What is “quicker” and (supposedly) “more flexible” is not always the Best solution. Infrastructure (capital) investments vs. equipment maintenance. Not to mention easier navigation, comfort, and attractiveness all lead to increased ridership. Also, permanence… the *inability* to simply reroute on a whim… can have great impact on economic development (retail and other commercial businesses)… train tracks mean it will “always” be there.

  • Well, they had buses…the 77 and the 61. Are those two on the chopping block to be cut down in the amount of service or number of stops?

  • tybur6 – How is this not appropriate? or Needed? Have any of you been to Red Hook.

    We are in a fiscal disaster, existing mass transit (including surface transport) is being cut and some dopey pol wants the Government to spend millions on a new route for a form of transportation that is 1. Totally inflexible 2. Easily replaceable with cheaper and more flexible options (bus) 3. Is entirely unique and will therefore NOT benefit from economies of scale and will therefore cost infinitly more to maintain 4. Serves an area that is generally not densely populated (sans the RHH)

    Since I would like to save $ for the MTA and city I propose that instead that we provide black car vouchers for all Red Hook residents – since no doubt chauffeuring them around would be cheaper than this boondogle waiting to happen.

  • NeoGrec

    Without decent public transportation, the redevelopment of Red Hook will falter. If you want it to remain a backwater for work-at-home artists/creative types, I guess that’s fine. But to address the unemployment issues facing residents of the public housing there and to make the area more welcoming for ordinary middle-class people with jobs in Manhattan, there has to be a transportation solution.

  • I think this is a fantastic idea; a second route from Park Slope to Red Hook would also be fantastic: it would get some consumer money from PS down to RH.

    This isn’t, primarily about transportation; it’s about tourism, and the psychological charm that a trolley/light rail line brings when compared to a bus or subway.

  • Red Hook is especially well suited for this given its lower density; going down to DUMBO, down to Fulton Landing, I suppose, that makes sense due to the hill terrain.

  • First of all, I love me some trolleys and yes, the area is underserved by mass transit.
    BUT.
    When the MTA (and NY State) barely has money to keep itself in business, a trolley seems like a waste of the taxpayers money. If better transit is such a necessity, then create a dedicated busway on that same route for a fraction of the cost.
    Sure it won’t be as glam or fun as a trolley, but if you live in RH and want a quick way to get downtown, the bus will do the job.

  • I’ll take it. Build me a way to get to those dumplings at the Good Fork from Downtown Brooklyn!

  • What I like is the idea of spending a small amount on a study, and then seeking funds to actually do it later on, but not right now, when we should be freezing and cutting government (and getting as many liberals and leftists out of office as possible).

    And yes to the east-west spur up the Slope. It could give critical mass to Red Hook.

    And yes, tying its feasibility into IKEA, Fairway makes sense.

  • The only transit project that really would change Red Hook forever would be extending the 2nd Avenue ‘T’ line to RH. Build a new underwater tunnel between the South St. Seaport station and the Brooklyn Bridge Park (pier 6) station, keep going under Columbia St. until you build the next station at Union/Carroll and finally end the line near Fairway/IKEA. RH would never feel desolate again. That would be the only way if you wanted to do it right, anything else would be a waste.

  • The $10-$15mm cost estimate cited in the article seems implausibly low.

  • “By BrooklynCouch on May 18, 2010 5:38 PM

    And yes to the east-west spur up the Slope. ”

    You mean like the B77 bus, which is scheduled to be eliminated? That line has been heavily patronized for decades by Red Hook residents who come up to 5th Avenue to do their shopping.

  • this would be amazing!

  • By qualmly on May 19, 2010 10:31 AM

    As I plainly wrote, a trolley would only be about 1/2 for transportation–a bus works for that. A trolley (and we’re talking about redesigning the vehicle-concept: it would need to be partially open; maybe double-decker). The other half is for urban ambiance; to connect neighborhoods for tourism; connect Park Slope to the Harbor.

    Explore it, study it, cost it out, but wait for better times for to do it. We need to first get rid of the disgusting socialist regimes in Albany and Washington so that there’s actually some money available for urban investment.

  • The notion that Red Hook is (according to tybur6) “an area that is generally not densely populated (sans the RHH)” is absurd. You can’t subtract the Red Hook Houses from the population. The 2000 census puts Red Hook’s population at 10,408, and Park Slope’s at 65,047. Park Slope is served by twelve subway lines. If Red Hook’s population is a sixth of Park Slope’s, I’d gladly settle for a sixth of the train lines. Or even half that. One measly light rail. Seems not that much to ask, really.

  • By tina24hour on May 19, 2010 5:05 PM

    Wait, you don’t want too densely populated; that would make a trolley incompatible. It’s the long stretches of post-industrial development that makes RH and a trolley compatible.

    How about a loop, or “U”: from Atlantic/4th to 9th/4th right turn on 9th to RH, and then North to Downtown.