Study to explore expanding Long Island Motor Parkway in Queens moves closer to reality

Motor Parkway 2
Photo courtesy of NYC Parks

A bill proposed by a Bayside-based lawmaker that would authorize a feasibility study for a greenway extension has passed the Senate.

State Senator Tony Avella’s bill, which passed unanimously on Feb 27, would give the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) commissioner the green light to conduct a study on the proposed eastward extension of the Long Island Motor Parkway. The bill will now go before the Assembly, where it is sponsored by David Weprin, and then would be delivered to Governor Andrew Cuomo for final approval.

The proposed expansion would extend the parkway — which is currently used by city park users and bicyclists — east from Winchester Boulevard to Little Neck Parkway. It currently runs from 210th Street to Winchester Boulevard in the Oakland Garden section of Bayside and lets off near Union Turnpike.

Photo via Google Maps/Motor Parkway
Photo via Google Maps/Motor Parkway

Also known as the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, the roadway was originally built in 1908 as a racecourse that was later developed into a major public thoroughfare. Today, the NYC Parks Department maintains a stretch of the roadway which runs through Cunningham Park as a tree-lined path used by joggers, walkers and cyclists. It is part of the NYC Greenway program.

The study would estimate the total cost of the project, the duration of the project and the impact construction would have on local traffic patterns and the environment. Findings will be reported to the governor and members of state legislature by Feb. 1, 2020.

The extension would connect the Queens portion of the trail to the proposed Nassau County Motor Parkway project: an effort to connect the remaining portions of the parkway with new trails to create a continuous trail on western Long Island.

Avella proposes extending the parkway along the side of the Grand Central Parkway from Winchester Boulevard to Lakeville Road using the right of way. This approach, similar to the one taken for the Rockaway Gateway Greenway along the Belt Parkway, would improve public safety, according to Avella.

“Conducting this study to find out how feasible a Long Island Motor Parkway expansion is will play a major role in improving public safety near one of the more dangerous roads in Queens while also providing the community with much-needed public space,” the lawmaker said.

In June 2017, Councilman Barry Grodenchik announced he secured $1.25 million to begin resurfacing the existing Vanderbilt Motor Parkway. Work is slated to begin on the most damaged section at the eastern end.