After two phases of reconstruction, the historic Vanderbilt Motor Parkway has been revamped and recently unveiled for cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy more green space in eastern Queens. The path spans three miles and connects Alley Pond Park in Queens Village to Cunningham Park in Flushing.
As one of the first concrete roads in the country, it was also the first highway to use bridges and overpasses and created a high-speed connection between Queens and Suffolk County. It was originally built in 1908 as a racecourse by railroad mogul and financier William K. Vanderbilt, Jr. and endures today as a popular nature path.
At a ribbon cutting ceremony on Nov. 6, elected officials including Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. and Council Member Linda Lee joined Friends of Alley Pond Park to celebrate the completion of the project and open it to the public.
The $4 million project, funded by the mayor’s office and the City Council, enhanced the space with new pavement to make for a smoother surface for cyclists, walkers and joggers. It also addressed draining issues by elevating the ground level to prevent water from exacerbating high-risk flood zones.
“Thanks to this work, cyclists and pedestrians will be able to enjoy an upgraded open space for recreation and relaxation for years to come,” said Queens Borough Commissioner Jackie Langsam, who was present at the unveiling. “This project represents our commitment as a ‘Five Borough Administration’ to investing in equitable, accessible, and beautiful public greenspaces in our outer boroughs.”
Rustic timber guardrails and more greenery in the form of tree plantings also gave the area an aesthetic boost with the goal of improving the quality of life for visitors.
The first phase of the project focused on the path from Winchester Boulevard by the entrance to Alley Pond Park to Springfield Boulevard and was completed in September 2021. Construction on the second phase, which addressed Springfield Boulevard to 199th Street and north of 67th Ave, began in July 2022.
“Eastern Queens is known for its scenic parks and green spaces that allow families to enjoy the outdoors. The reconstruction of the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway now provides refurbished space to serve as areas to benefit the health and wellness of our community,” said Lee. “The Vanderbilt Motor Parkway is always bustling with cyclists and joggers across the neighborhood, so I want to thank Queens Parks Commissioner Jackie Langsam for your leadership in ensuring the completion of this project.”