The plan to transform the Long Island Rail Road’s unused Rockaway Beach Branch Line into a linear park — dubbed the QueensWay — has taken another step forward.
The first phase of the 3.5-mile project, which is being called the “Metropolitan Hub” runs from Metropolitan Avenue south to Union Turnpike, and aims to improve access to Forest Park through an existing path that provides both pedestrian and bike access into the park.
The proposed Metropolitan Hub will also provide learning gardens and outdoor classrooms for the over 2,000 students in the three schools of the Queens Metropolitan Education Campus.
Phase I could be built and open to the public as a city park by 2020, The Trust for Public Land said.
“[Wednesday’s] announcement is a tremendous step forward for the QueensWay, which would not have been possible without our partners in government and the community, who enthusiastically provided ideas for safe routes for biking and walking, outdoor classroom space, and enhancements to baseball fields,” said Andy Stone, New York City Director of The Trust for Public Land. “The completion of a compelling design for the first phase will bring us that much closer to making the QueensWay a reality for hundreds of thousands of people who live within a 10-minute walk.”
For over 50 years, the Rockaway Beach Branch Line has laid unused, and in 2011 Friends of the QueensWay was created to envision a better future for the tracks.
“For decades, our own communities and neighbors have endured the unique hardships of living near an abandoned, unsafe and unnatural structure,” said Travis Terry, member of the Friends of the QueensWay Steering Committee. “With these recent developments, we are one step closer to realizing the full potential of the QueensWay project and seeing real improvement to our daily lives.”
The QueensWay Phase I Schematic Design was led by DLANDstudio Architecture + Landscape Architecture, and included important input from local residents at several community meetings and workshops to discuss desired uses of the land, as well as a detailed site analysis and survey process.
Over the next year, community members will receive construction-ready working drawings which will provide additional details on new features of the proposed Queensway park.
In addition, a safety and security consultant will be making recommendations for design and operations of the QueensWay, in order to maximize the safety of park users and nearby homes and businesses.
Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi helped secure funding for this stage of the project and is excited to see it move forward.
“It was a pleasure to have been able to provide funding for this stage of the QueensWay project, and am pleased with the progress that has been made to realize this tremendous community amenity,” he said. “The QueensWay will not only improve quality of life for so many central Queens residents, but will make great strides in helping to impact our local economy. I look forward to continuing my work and partnership with The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay in building the QueensWay.”
In all, The Trust for Public Land and Friends of the QueensWay have combined over $2 million in private funds and state grants to complete a plan, build a network of thousands of local supporters and volunteers, in addition to preparing the first stages of design for the QueensWay project.
To learn more about the QueensWay project, visit www.thequeensway.org.