Plans for NYC streetcar move ahead

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ASTORIA, Queens — It would travel about eleven miles-per-hour carrying riders between Sunset Park, Brooklyn and Astoria, Queens.

It could cost $2.5 billion dollars to build and $30 million a year to operate.

The trolley system may offer 45,000 to 50,000  daily rides.

Planners, potential riders, drivers and neighbors are looking at the numbers and being asked to consider the possibilities.

Plans to build it are purposely moving along at a slow speed.

The city's Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) held the first in a series of public meeting in Astoria along 21st Avenue at the Variety Boy's & Girl's Club.

Riders and neighbors were asked to take part in a "vision session" to log and address their concerns.

Questions about construction, parking and the actual route were raised. Some homeowners asked about the project's financing and the impact on their home values. Those are are tied to the amount of property taxes they pay.

As it did with Hudson Yards, the city is considering financing the $2.5 billion project with bonds that are backed by the rising property values from new development. That is not a tax increase.

Maria Torres-Springer, President and CEO of the NYCEDC, believes the project will help address the waterfront's transportation needs. She says the city will continue to work on a variety of projects, including select bus routes and funding the MTA Capital Plan.

Additional sessions are planned in the next three months along the 16-mile stretch from Astoria, Queens to Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

The EDC says it will continue to work with community boards to understand travel patterns and address the growing infrastructure and transportation needs along the corridor.

The city recently completed a new study that estimated it would serve between 45,000 to 50,000 riders.

New York City Councilmember Costa Constantinides wants to see more specifics and is hopeful the community will participate and be heard.

Planners will review the input and submit it to project engineers. The city will also be reviewing recent trolley projects in other cities.

Construction would be scheduled for 2019 or 2020 and it could take three years to construct.