Officials Push for East River Ferry Expansion to Astoria's Hallets Point

By Jeanmarie Evelly on April 4, 2013 1:19pm 

ASTORIA — City and federal officials are looking for funding from Washington to expand the East River Ferry, pushing a plan that would bring the waterway service to Astoria's developing Hallets Point peninsula and several other city neighborhoods.

The Economic Development Corporation wants to bring the new ferry landings to Astoria, the Upper East Side, Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park and Roosevelt Island, future home of Cornell University's NYC Tech Campus.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on federal transportation agencies to fund the venture, saying it that would provide a critical link between the planned Cornell campus and the city's other growing tech communities.

“The East River Ferry expansion project can become a ‘Nerd Boat’ that connects our rapidly-expanding tech hubs, like Dumbo and the Brooklyn Navy yard, with the new Cornell NYC’s Applied Science Campus,” Schumer said in a press release. “It will also maximize ferry-use throughout the city and better connect these waterfront neighborhoods to public transportation, benefiting the local economy."

In Astoria, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. has been pushing for ferry service in Hallets Point, where public transportation options are currently limited and where a massive residential housing complex is set to rise in the coming years.

“With a lack of public transportation as it is, and a new housing development possibly on the way, Hallets Point is an ideal location for a ferry stop," Vallone said in a statement.

The councilman says he remains "undecided" on the proposed Hallets Point development — a $1 billion project that would transform seven acres of the region's waterfront — in part because he doesn't think the area's existing infrastructure can accommodate the surge in population the project is expected to bring.

The development would build more than 2,000 new apartment units on Hallets Point. Representatives for the developer said in December that a new supermarket would be built as part of the plans, and that construction of a new school is being considered.

The East River Ferry currently stops at terminals in Long Island City, DUMBO, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Wall Street, and Midtown Manhattan, plus Governors Island during the summer.

The service was launched in 2011 as a three-year pilot project, but was extended this winter to continue through at least 2019. City officials said more than 1.6 million riders have used the ferry since its start.

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