New discussions begin about old rail line in Queens

Queens

Open space and transit access are two things that New Yorkers treasure.  Both ideas have been suggested along 3.5 miles of abandoned tracks in Central Queens. 

QueensLink — a group fighting for a new transit and park system in the area — released its own new study by an engineering firm. They commissioned it to review plans and budgets from a 2019 MTA report which pit the total costs at $8 billion. 

Supporters say the rail project doesn’t have to cost that much. The QueensLink study suggests reducing fees to consultants and streamlining contingency plans which account for costs in the future. 

Andrew Lynch is Chief Designer for QueensLink 

“That’s what our project is trying to do: re-invision infrastructure for as many people as possible,” he said. 

QueensLink believes the MTA estimate was inflated. MTA Spokerson Aaron Donovan wrote that the numbers were consistent with industry standards and at the low-end of likely requirements from the federal transit administration. 

Rick Horan, QueensLink Executive Director, called it an investment that would generate economic returns. 

“Future generations will judge us harshly if we don’t figure out how to build this,” he said. 

The old tracks already connect at some Queens Boulevard subway lines that stop in the area of Rego Park and Forest Hills. 

The structure travels south to the current location of the A train in Ozone Park, Queens, which continues to the Rockaways. 

“Reactivating that line and all the ways it can cross cross from Queens Boulevard and subway lines will open up Queens as a borough,” said New York State Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer (D-Howard Beach and the Rockaways). 

Another group has organized to advocate for parkland and a project called QueensWay

Those supporters would like to see the elevated area transformed into a park similar to the High Line. 

Travis Terry questions the new transit study and the potential environmental and community facility damage. 

“It is time to move on and the QueensWay Park is planned and ready to go. The QueensWay could be completed in only a few years, cost 4% of the rail plan and would be a much-needed booster shot to the economy and quality of life in Central Queens” said Terry, with QueensWay, said.

Some neighbors also have voiced opposition to a new train through their areas, while some other residents would welcome the transit access. 

NYC Councilmember Bob Holden, who represents nearby Middle Village, Queens, says it would alleviate traffic on Woodhaven Boulevard. 

QueensLink says parkland and open space are included in their proposals. 

City and state officials ultimately will decide how to proceed and what projects to prioritize, if any. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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