The tunnel at Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village on the proposed Interborough Express (IBX) transit line, under part of All Faiths Cemetery, is a subject of controversy. It is wide enough for only two tracks. The MTA says it cannot be enlarged to accommodate two tracks each for freight and transit, because of the cemetery above.

The MTA offers only two alternatives to permit both freight trains and transit to travel through the area: a new, longer, and deeper tunnel costing about 2.9 billion dollars or use of Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) for the entire IBX line. They would bypass the Metropolitan Avenue tunnel by running through the streets of Middle Village.

There is another alternative, successfully used on other systems, which is time-sharing of tracks in the existing tunnel by freight and transit. That would permit use of existing subway-type railcars, such as those used on the PATH system or on NYC Transit’s A Division (numbered lines, which I refer to as “IRT-type” cars.) The MTA, however, has categorically rejected that alternative, writing to me, “In light of current and future of freight mobility needs in New York City and the region, operationally sharing CSX’s trackage with through [sic.] the Metropolitan Avenue tunnel in Queens is not an option for the MTA.”

My paper at addresses those “current and future freight mobility needs,” showing that—in fact—they can be met by time-sharing in the Metropolitan Avenue tunnel.

John Pegram
New York, NY