65th Street Rail Yard
South of the Brooklyn Army Terminal at the foot of 65th Street is the Bay Ridge Railyard.
The Long Island Railroad's Bay Ridge Line was originally built in 1876 by the New York, Bay Ridge and Jamaica Railroad, which began passenger service with this as the western terminus in August, 1876. Three months later, the railroad was sold to Long Island railroad baron Austin Corbin (1827-1896) and reorganized as the New York and Manhattan Beach Railway Company to provide passenger service to Corbin's new Manhattan Beach Hotel on Coney Island. Corbin eventually acquired the entire Long Island Railroad by 1881.
Corbin died unexpectedly in 1896 and with his expansionist appetite silenced, the quickly-expanding Brooklyn Rapit Transit system and the LIRR signed an agreement in 1899 that allowed the BRT to consolidate Brooklyn's rail lines and the LIRR to focus on service to points east. Expansion of the BRT made the ferry to Manhattan obsolete and service terminated in 1898. The LIRR station closed in 1909 during the Bay Ridge Line's massive grade-crossing elimination project and passenger service on the Bay Ridge Line ended completely in 1924, although this remained a yard for the freight division of the Long Island Railroad. The yard was abandoned during the 1980s and 1990s before being renovated and reopened in 1999 as a storage, switching, and intermodal transfer yard.
In 1997, the LIRR privatized its freight services and formed the New York and Atlantic Railway (NY&A), which uses the 65th Street Yard as a transfer point for trains that ultimately make it to the mainland over the Hell Gate Bridge. Most notably, municipal garbage is transfered to trains which then take it to landfills in Pennsylvania, Ohio or Virginia.
The yard is also used by rail cars that are floated across the bay by the New York Cross Harbor Railroad, which uses the old Bush Terminal carfloat apron at the foot of 51st Street to the north and brings the cars down First Avenue and through the Brooklyn Army Terminal to the 65th Street Yard. During the 1999 renovation of the rail yard, the NYCH considered moving their operations to the 65th Street yard and the 65th Street floatbridges were rebuilt to handle the larger railcars being used at the time. However, the move never took place and the floatbridges at 65th Street remained unused.
There have been dreams for over a century of a tunnel between Brooklyn and New Jersey, with more specific proposals in recent years for a freight rail tunnel under New York harbor to connect the Greenville Branch in Jersey City to the Bay Ridge line. Rail cargo from the south and west currently must either be offloaded to trucks in New Jersey (further clogging NYC's roads and bridges) or sent further up the river to the closest Hudson River crossing at Selkirk (adding significant time and expense to shipments). The eastern portal of the tunnel would be to the west of the Bay Ridge Yard, probably between 8th and 13th Avenues. Consideration has also been given to a tunnel that would provide a subway connection to Staten Island as well as adapting the entire Bay Ridge Line as part of a new Circumferential Subway Line that would wrap around Brooklyn and Queens and provide direct service over Wards Island into the Bronx.
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