Woodhaven meeting on Rockaway railbed set

Woodhaven meeting on Rockaway railbed set
Photo by Joe Anuta
BY Alicia taylor-domville

Since 1962 the Rockaway Branch rail line has been inactive and there has been much debate about what will become of it.

The two leading suggestions have been reactivating the transit line or possibly making the route a walk and/or bike pathway entitled “The QueensWay.” In order to get Woodhaven residents’ opinions about what they would like to see done, the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association will hold a meeting for the residents this Saturday.

The Rockaway Branch line runs along 98th Street in Woodhaven. When the line was active, it first ran through the neighborhoods of Middle Village, Woodhaven, Ozone Park and Howard Beach across Jamaica Bay through Broad Channel and onto the Rockaway Peninsula.

Due to a fire in May 1950, service was cut. Not long after, the line was purchased by the city and ran extended service over Jamaica Bay. As ridership declined, the service came to an end in June 1962. Since the service ended, there has been much talk of restoring the site. In 2001, there was a proposal about AirTrain service to John F. Kennedy International Airport, but due to heavy complaints from residents about an increase noise the plan was scrapped. In 2005, residents suggested the idea of the “QueensWay.”

This meeting has been organized by the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. Its members are reaching out to ensure the residents’ opinions and concerns in the decision of the restoration are heard. This meeting will give them the opportunity to voice their views on each proposal, since they have not taken a formal stance.

“My entire life, I’ve resided just a block away from those tracks. I know that either proposal, if it became a reality, would have an enormous impact on those who live nearby, and on Woodhaven as a whole,” said Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association Director of Communications Alex Blenkinsopp.

In attendance at the meeting will be speakers supporting both of the leading proposals and they will take questions from the residents.

The meeting will be held at Queens Tabernacle, at 86-03 96th St., around the block from the rail line Saturday at 1 p.m.. All those that are unable to make the meeting will be able to read summaries posted on the website woodhaven-nyc.org.