A High Line in Queens? Not so fast

Present conditions and renderings of the proposed QueensWay
Present conditions and renderings of the proposed QueensWay

Queens residents would rather see trains running on an abandoned stretch of The Long Island Rail Road, according to a new survey conducted by the Queens College Urban Studies Department.

The survey, cited by Capital New York, asked participants to weigh in on future uses for a 3.5-mile stretch of the LIRR’s Rockaway Beach line, which park advocates want to convert into a linear park to be known as the QueensWay. A competing plan is to reactivate a train line connecting Manhattan and the Rockaways.

Both plans would impact nearby property values, the report noted. “Homeowners and business owners along the right of way raised concerns about crime and quality-of-life issues related to both the park and transportation reactivation schemes,” the report stated.

Prior to 1962, the Rockaway Beach line connected Manhattan to the Rockaways in 40 minutes. A portion of the rail connecting Rego Park and Ozone Park was deactivated thanks to low ridership, and now that trip now takes an hour and a half.

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Park advocates, who want the rail infrastructure repurposed to create a High Line for Queens, took issue with the report’s findings, saying the survey – which polled 363 residents and 44 businesses — “showed no major statistical preference for rail.”

Friends of the QueensWay’s Travis Terry said in a statement that studies by the MTA and Port Authority have shown a rail line is not viable “because of the extraordinary cost of building it, the significant increase in cost to commuters to use it, and the environmental and quality of life damage and disruption it would cause to the existing regional rail system.” [Capital New York] —E.B. Solomont