NYC converts unused tracks into Queens Park

Mayor Eric Adams announced Friday that the Big Apple will spend $35 million to convert unused railroad tracks in Queens into a park — a plan critics say could prevent the region’s transit service from being restored.

The funds will fund the design and construction of the first phase of the estimated $150 million QueensWay project, which boosters say will transform an abandoned 3.5-mile railroad track into a network of green spaces and bike and pedestrian paths, which extends from Rego Park to Ozone Park.

“Queen’s Way improves the quality of life, it improves air quality,” Adams said at a photo op announcing the funding. “It promotes both physical and mental well-being and gives companies more visibility on the track, so it’s also an economic incentive.”

There was no mention in Hizzoner’s remarks that the plan was one of two being considered by City Hall.

The other proposal called for the reuse of old local track, originally built as part of the Long Island Rail Road’s Rockaway Beach Branch.

Queensway
QueensWay released renderings of the proposed park.
Queensway

Public transit advocates and several local Queens politicians have long dreamed of electrifying and repurposing the tracks to bring subway service to transit-starved neighborhoods and increase the number of trains serving JFK Airport and serve the Rockaways.

“This is a huge mistake,” Senator Jessica Ramos (D-Queens) said of the city’s current plan. “There is no reason why we have to choose between public transport and green spaces.

“Honestly, I don’t think the city should make any of these decisions without full public scrutiny,” she added.

Render of QueensWay Park
The QueensWay project is valued at US$150 million.
Queensway

Ramos was among more than a dozen Queens politicians who signed a letter urging the MTA to officially study the second plan — known as QueensLink.

It would use the tracks to extend the M train from the Queens Boulevard subway to Liberty Avenue, where it would merge with Rockaway-bound A trains running along the Fulton Street subway line.

The portions of the right-of-way not used by the subway extension would be turned into parks, although this would create less green space than Adams’ preferred QueensWay plan.

Adams left the event before the other elected officials had finished speaking, making it impossible for reporters to ask him questions.

Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi, who remained on the presser after Adam’s departure, when asked about the apparent lack of a subway option, told reporters that the city would redo its planning work and potentially change course during construction if the MTA would proceed with subway expansion.

MTA spokesman Eugene Resnick later told The Post in an email, “Nothing in the city’s plan for QueensWay will impact future MTA transportation initiatives.”

Another prominent Queens politician, Borough President Donovan Richards, used his speech at the announcement to specifically urge the MTA to start the subway study, just minutes after Adams announced millions of dollars to fund a design without such to support regulations.

Eric Adams
Adams announced the $35 million plan to convert unused Queens railroad tracks into a park.
Eric Pendzich/Shutterstock

“We know that much of Queens remains a transit desert, with no subway access and limited and often poor bus service,” he said. “We need to do both to ensure we can improve our public transportation and also ensure our communities have access to open spaces.”

A technical analysis funded by two council offices and conducted by proponents of the subway expansion priced the project at $3.4 billion to $3.7 billion. A previous MTA estimate put the cost at a whopping $8 billion.

https://nypost.com/2022/09/16/nyc-converting-unused-tracks-into-queens-park/ NYC converts unused tracks into Queens Park

JACLYN DIAZ

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