According to a recent feasibility study, a budget of $120 million is needed to order to transform 3.5 miles of abandoned railroad tracks into the Queens version of Manhattan’s Highline. If approved, the QueensWay project would provide residents with bicycle and pedestrian paths, as well as an adventure park for its surrounding communities.
The rail line, which opened in 1877, currently connects Forest Hills, Rego Park, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park. The line was closed in 1962, after a fire in 1950 caused a drastic decline in its ridership. It is now home to weeds and graffiti. The QueensWay project, however, plans to renovate the entire line and bring new life to the area.
The cost estimate for the project, formulated by consultants for the Trust for Public Land and the Friends of the QueensWay, currently covers the cost of design and construction. As a comparison, the High Line, which spans 1.45 miles, costs $152 million for the first two sections and $35 million for the third.
The proposed park in Queens would run from Rego Park to Ozone Park and promises to include a little something for everyone. As such, residents’ suggestions have been taken into account in order to create a conceptual and all encompassing design for QueensWay. For the 320,000 people for live within a mile of this area, this includes a number of sports facilities and even a recreation center in the southern portion of the park. Several learning gardens will also be constructed, free for children from local schools to use. Additionally, some people have suggested that the park could also include a zipline, as well as a giant slide, although the exact details are not yet clear.
One main concern, however, is privacy for residents living near the park. Some houses, for example, are located just within a few yards of the railway. Thus, in order to cater to this need, a buffer zone of shrubbery has been designed to run alongside the park.
With a rough blue print set, QueensWay supporters are now focused on raising funds. So far, the project has received $1.5 million dollars in support, although certain groups like the Rockaway Transit Coalition are opposed to the idea. Several elected officials, such Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, for example, want to reactivate the train service instead.