The proposal to reactivate is getting some more play; I believe this is also part of Triboro Rx promoted by the RPA: RPA Triboro Rx page
Of course, where an MTA and city and state struggling to catch up on infrastructure would find funds....
New York Assemblyman wants MTA to look into reactivating rail spur
New York Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D - Howard Beach) has called on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to apply for funds from a recently-announced New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) infrastructure grant to fund a comprehensive feasibility study into reactivation of the abandoned Rockaway Beach rail spur.
"Families in southern Queens and Rockaway suffer from some of the longest commutes in the entire city. The state's new passenger rail grant program has the potential to bring an end to our transportation desert. By funding a feasibility study into reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line, we can work to create a true north-south rail corridor in Queens, improve transit access to our airports and take thousands of cars off the road," said Assemblyman Goldfeder.
There was also a blurb earlier this year: Capital New York
I believe this utilizes the branch as well, but I could be mistaken. If so, I'll gladly split this out.
R.P.A. calls, again, for outer-borough X line
The Regional Plan Association has a solution to New York City's outer borough transportation problems: build the Triboro Rx line, or the X line as it is alternately known.
The proposed 24-mile route along a mostly above-ground right-of-way now used entirely by freight trains, would serve more than 100,000 weekday riders and is, according to the association, "by far the most promising" concept for rail expansion in the outer boroughs.