QueensLink Advocates Call for more Public Transit Options

QueensLink Advocates Call for more Public Transit Options

By Michael V. Cusenza

Proponents of the QueensLink, devoted to the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line either as part of the Long Island Rail Road or, more likely, the City subway system, recently took to City Hall to rally for their cause.

It seems to be an uphill battle.

A year ago, Mayor Eric Adams on Friday announced a $35 million investment for design and construction of the Metropolitan Hub in Queens—phase one of a new multi-phase, long-discussed greenway and park project called QueensWay.

“New York is a five-borough city, and every borough deserves high-quality park space. That’s exactly what we are delivering with this $35 million investment in one of our vital neighborhoods in Queens,” Adams said. “QueensWay phase one will convert abandoned railroad tracks that have been used as a dumping ground into a linear park that will make this community safer, healthier, greener, and more prosperous. The community has been asking for this for decades, and I am proud to stand with them to show how we ‘Get Stuff Done’ for New Yorkers.”

According to Adams, this phase of the project will transform a vacant, city-owned corridor in Forest Hills into a five-acre park with 0.7 miles of greenway, providing residents with new open space, improved access to recreational amenities, outdoor education opportunities for students, and a safe transportation corridor connecting people to schools, businesses, and 10 bus lines. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) will manage the construction of the Met Hub in collaboration with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks). The funding includes $2.5 million from the New York City Council.

The QueensWay project involves converting the long-abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line of the Long Island Rail Road—a 3.5-mile, 47-acre swath of the borough, from Rego Park to Ozone Park—into a $120 million public park, similar to the Highline in Chelsea, boasting trails and amenities.

However, for the past several years, the debate over what to do with the span of abandoned rail track has come down to QueensWay vs. QueensLink: park land vs. public transportation in the World’s Borough.

QueensLink advocates think a deal can still be struck that will leave both currently entrenched parties smiling.

“We can do both,” City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said, according to WPIX-11.

According to QueensWay plans, the High Line-inspired project includes a 47-acre park and seven miles of greenway from a converted unused railroad line. The project will cover the Queens neighborhoods of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Glendale, Forest Park, Woodhaven, and Ozone Park. The proposal was conceived by the Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay. The project concept is the result of an extensive community outreach that included public and stakeholder workshops, information tables at local community events and festivals, and more than 20 public tours.

“We all saw how the High Line overnight became one of the hottest destinations in the entire city, for New Yorkers and tourists alike, who flock to all the surrounding businesses,” Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar (D-Woodhaven) last year.


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