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An abandoned railway that runs through Queens, this 3.5-mile stretch of rail line (former LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch) has sat decaying for nearly 60 years, where illegal drugs and dumping cause severe safety and environmental issues to nearby residents. 

How can we end this? As early as 2011, the idea of the QueensWay was conceived to transform the blighted railway to an elevated linear park. It would provide safe pathways for pedestrians and cyclists connecting the communities of Rego Park, Forest Hills, Richmond Hill, Glendale, Woodhaven, and Ozone Park. With a total area of 47 acres, the QueensWay would provide  much-needed public green space in Central and Eastern Queens, safe commuting alternatives, and free outdoor recreation for Queens residents. About 93,000 people live within a 10-min walking distance to QueensWay and 323,000 people live within a 1-mile radius. There are also 12 schools nearby–safe routes to schools and outdoor classrooms have been carefully included in the design to protect our children. 

An alternative use of this land is to reactivate the defunct train line.. After a careful cost-benefit analysis, it does not appear this is the best way forward. The train would not extend  beyond Howard Beach because of difficulties in building subways across Jamaica Bay. Furthermore, a recently released MTA study  estimated the cost of reactivating this train line as $6.8B – $8.1B. Together with a city budget shortfall, low ridership projections, and environmental concerns, we don’t expect to be able to secure the necessary funding. In addition to demolishing several existing stations and building new tunnels, the rail reactivation would claim up to 7 acres of existing park space in our neighborhoods. 

In light of this, Kaled Alamarie for Council passionately supports the QueensWay. We will work with the Trust for Public Land, Friends of the QueensWay, community members, and the City and State of New York to actualize this community-oriented rails-to-trails project.

If you are interested in getting involved with this project, email info@alamarieforcouncil.com. Let’s get to work!

 

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