Home Queens From Queens, support for the QueensWay and more transit

From Queens, support for the QueensWay and more transit

by Benjamin Kabak

According to the group lobbying for the QueensWay, Queens residents overwhelmingly support a park. The Trust for Public Land, the organization that received $500,000 in New York State money to study the rails-to-trails conversion, released a poll this week alleging that 75 percent of respondents support the park while 10 percent are against it and 15 are undecided.

The Trust has, of course, declared victory. “Queens is one of the most diverse communities in the nation and the fact that seventy-five percent of the residents who live there support the QueensWay is extraordinary,” Marc Matsil, the organization’s New York State director, said in a statement. But there’s a problem.

As the Daily News noted, there are some sample size issues, but that’s not the real issue. Rather, it’s one instead of messaging. What was the question and were alternatives offered? It’s highly unlikely that the Trust offered up a transit option instead, and if they did, the group certainly didn’t include those results in their press release. Instead, they phrased the question as a solution to a problem of an abandoned right of way, and of course, residents would prefer a park to decrepit, disused train structure. An honest poll, though, would include both options.

Meanwhile, proponents may be overstating their case. “The poll reveals overwhelming support for the QueensWay, as studies show that rails to trails projects, like the QueensWay, encourage private investment in the communities they serve, attract tourism dollars, provide a new customer base to support local businesses, and create jobs,” Jack Friedman, the executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said. That’s all well and good when rail lines, like the High Line, are in areas that already are tourist destinations, but it’s tough to see people flocking to residential Queens to view a 3.5-mile elevated park.

And what of transit? During a recent debate between candidates for Queens Borough President, both Melinda Katz and Tony Arcabascio spoke of the need for transit. Katz discussed expanding ferry service (not so useful) as well as more bike lanes (useful) and expanded bus service (even more useful), but neither of the candidates touched the issue of rail. I still believe a parallel feasibility study for the Rockaway Beach Branch line should be on the table, but until more Queens politicians take of that call, the Trust and its surveys will dominate the discussion.

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Jeremy Wilcox October 24, 2013 - 5:04 pm

I disagree with the general premise of this (ie. the anti-QueensWay part).

To clarify, I have no connection to this project. But I used to live in Middle Village, very close to this abandoned railway (I moved in 2012). And I would have (and still would) love this old line to be transformed into green space and public use… park space, bike lanes, etc. The northern half of the line in particular runs through the heart of Rego Park, a neighborhood that would love to see more open space. The Southern end, down around South Ozone Park, is in even more desperate need of open green space and has no extra need for Rockaway train service, as the A train is right there.

Regarding tourism, that’s a defeatist attitude. Will people flock to this from all over, as they do the High Line? No, but who cares? Central Park draws more visitors than Prospect Park… is the latter any less useful to the city? Queens is a borough that tourists rarely visit anyway (other than the airports)… this could only improve that, & 100% couldn’t hurt that sad fact. This could get *some* tourist attention. The alternative (thinly populated LIRR trains) would get zero attention.

In conclusion, as a former resident of these neighborhoods, I can tell you that I never heard anyone clamoring for that LIRR line to be reopened. I did, however, see and hear lots of interest in opening that space up for public access.

The QueensWay people have put forth good proposals. They deserve support.

Benjamin Kabak October 24, 2013 - 5:10 pm

I’ve had these conversations with QueensWay supporters and members of Friends of the QueensWay, and I don’t disagree with your ultimate conclusion. That said, rails-to-trails works one way. No one ever takes a trail that was once rail and converts it back to rail. So before we give up a very very valuable ROW, we have to make damn sure that there’s no potential and feasible rail use for it. So run a concurrent feasibility study and rule it out. Otherwise, QueensWay will run the table as they are with this poll.

BBnet3000 October 24, 2013 - 6:44 pm

Ben is absolutely right about this poll. Not asking about the trail in comparison to a transit reactivation is disingenuous at this point.

JAR October 24, 2013 - 5:12 pm

If it is really an honest poll, shouldn’t the transit option be phrased as “a subway line, but only maybe, and really not likely in the next 20 years”?

Benjamin Kabak October 24, 2013 - 5:21 pm

It took Friends of the High Line ten years and $152 million for the first two phases so I guess a fair question would be:

Do you prefer maybe a subway line but probably not for two decades and a few billion dollars or would you prefer a park but probably not for 10-15 years and $150 million that no one has yet?

When I put it that way, perhaps we’re arguing over nothing.

Spendmore Wastemore October 24, 2013 - 7:30 pm

Billion? ROW built for trains heavier than subway cars is already there. Vaults/poles/stuff for electric power is there.

One million dollars should buy ten man-years of skilled labor or about 17 of helper/apprentice labor including overhead. One billion is a thousand million.
This project does not require an army.

Only in the USA can we figure out how to spend the GDP of a small nation on re-laying some tracks, re-installing some signals and re-stringing some wire. Yes, there’s more involved, but not $ billion with a b.

Bolwerk October 24, 2013 - 9:22 pm

Spendmore is right. This should be tens of millions of dollars, hundreds if we go crazy. How do you spend billions?

David Brown October 24, 2013 - 5:16 pm

That Poll is meaningless. Of course, people are going to say they want a Park if there is no alternative. It’s like asking if you want a Date with Jennifer Lawrence ( I certainly would, as would most guys), without mentioning you can have Milla Kunis instead. Beyond that, leaders are supposed to well lead, not follow Polls, that is what they are Elected to do.It is easy to say I want a Park, not so easy to explain why one would be a mistake. In this case, a big reason why it’s not only true, but not hard to explain is because Woodhaven is not exactly lacking in Green Space ( see Forrest Park).

Ryan 6 train October 24, 2013 - 8:14 pm

Haha. This is a tough one but I’d have to say Mila Kunis.

Vinny O'Hare October 24, 2013 - 6:23 pm

Build the train and put a high line above it. Problem solved

al October 26, 2013 - 12:21 pm

Then enclose it with sound absorbing walls and call it a day.

al October 26, 2013 - 12:22 pm

Then add sound absorbing walls and call it a day.

Bolwerk October 24, 2013 - 6:24 pm

Why do only Queens residents count? The impact of a rail conversion has implications for the entire city. The opinions of the people near the Rockaway Line are not on iota more important than the opinions of people who live in other boroughs.

BBnet3000 October 24, 2013 - 7:17 pm

The people in the area of the ROW are the ones most likely to use either the subway or the park. Its not as if there’s a huge demand for travel to Rego Park or Middle Village from elsewhere in the city. Most trips will originate and end at the Queens end.

Arguably there some demand from Northern Queens and maybe Manhattan to the Rockways, the vice versa.

Bolwerk October 24, 2013 - 7:57 pm

There might be a lot of demand between the IND Fulton and IND Queens Blvd. lines.

And it’s not a big jump to the airport either.

David Brown October 24, 2013 - 9:02 pm

BBnet, there is a lot of interest in people going to Rego Park, which is why there is not ONE but TWO Queens Centers (very convenient to drive to from Lower Manhattan (it takes me 15-20 Minutes)) Middle Village is very different (although the (M) from Delancy St is faster to Metropolitan Ave than to Woodhaven Blvd/Slattery Plaza (Queens Center). The ROW is nothing more than a lame attempt to stunt growth in Queens, and trust me the thing they really want to avoid is any growth except in Western Queens, and along Queens Blvd and maybe Roosevelt Ave. Nowhere is this worse than Richmond Hill (that includes the gated communities of Kew Gardens & Forest Hills).

Mike October 24, 2013 - 7:10 pm

There’s a group here in Philly using similar tactics. They want to take a former freight spur that SEPTA plans (but lacks funding) to turn into either a bus or trolley line, and instead turn it into a park. They have all sorts of misleading renders and never mention that transit is a very real alternative. Their members also reveal themselves to be virulently anti-transit when you people bring that up.

Nathanael October 25, 2013 - 1:16 am

The anti-rail nuts are *everywhere*. They’re all over upstate as well.

Bolwerk October 25, 2013 - 11:44 am

The people who should be sensible about transit don’t give a shit about rail either. It’s barely an afterthought to the TSTC.

marv October 25, 2013 - 4:51 pm

Anyone who sits on the Van Wyck or Woodhaven/Crossbay Blvd understands that NYC builders failed to provided adequate north/south through routes for Brookyn/Queens/Western Nassau. Starting at the the East River/NY Bay you have:

*The inadequate 6 lanes of the the BQE serving as the primary in city interstate for our nation’s biggest city
*Woodhaven/Crossbay Blvd
*the Van Wyck
*Francis Lewis “Blvd” which is varies from a boulevard to but local streets sharing a name
*the car only Cross Island

before reaching the car only Meadow Brook Parkway in the middle of Nassau County

The closest that you have to north south transit lines are limited to:
*Astoria line (via Broadway in Manhattan
*the G train running just a fraction of the the way

To surrender an established north south corridor to local nymbies is not the correct choice.

As one drives on the Belt Parkway in the area of the Queens/Brooklyn border, one sees acres of former landfills being converted to parkland. This parkland is but 10 minutes from those claiming the need for a Queensway park. On the northern end, Forest Park is a true jewel and Flushing Meadow Park is a well used park/international recreation center. (The southern end now reserved for (yes) birds could be converted to parkland for people if needed). NYC got is right on parks and has not retreated.

Mobility needs to be preserved and expanded. If mayoral candidate had vision, this right of way can be providing:
*a route to midtown from central queens and the rockaways
*a midtown-jfk route
*a rail line from southeast queens along the Belt parkway and then up queensway into Manhattan
*a jamaica bypass allowing trains from Valley Stream and east to run along the belt then up queensway before rejoining the main line. This could facilitate the archer avenue IND taking over one of the current LIRR sets of track the go through southeast Queens.

To have the region give up this asset to locals who fear:
*an influx of undesirables
*other quality of life issues

is wrong.

I have previously said that a subway would impact the near by residents (increased property values, increased property taxes, parking issues, noise issues) and that each of these issues should be dealt with as part of the cost of a new rail line. They should not however preclude or new rail line or force it to converted into an under used park.

Philip McManus October 29, 2013 - 11:28 pm

The Queens Public Transit Committee is looking to organize a March for better access to jobs, schools and the entire City through the reactivation of the Queens Rockaway Beach Line, Subway or LIRR.

Act now or lose the Queens RBL forever!

Please contact us for more information.
We need volunteers.
Dates to be announced.

We also ask you to







The Queens RBL is only one to six blocks east, travels north/south and parallel to Woodhaven Boulevard, from Penn Station through Central Queens to South Queens.

The Queens RBL took 40 minutes or less to get to Penn Station from Queens.

The Queens RBL, a major traffic corridor, was taken from us by the NIMBYS of Central Queens in 1950, 1962 and till present day.

Stop complaining about being stuck in traffic or on a overcrowded bus. Unite with your fellow commuters.

Don’t spectate…participate.




For more information:
Contact Queens Public Transit Committee






Tell your family and friends and commuters to sign our petitions to support the Reactivation of the Queens Rockaway Beach Line, the New Queens Crosstown, eliminate the toll on the Queens Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge for everyone and expand the Queens Rockaway Ferry:






Philip McManus
Queens Public Transit Committee

For more information.




















marv November 5, 2013 - 5:01 pm

Maybe we can give something to everyone. (A radical idea in the current my way or the highway mentality).

Given that:
*Woodhaven Blvd is a better transit corridor than the Rockaway beach branch
*The Bockaway Beach branch exists now
*that locals want a park

===> Convert two lanes of Woodhaven Blvd into a signal priority dedicated light rail corridor running from Queens Center to the Howard Beach subway/jfk airtrain station. build key overpasses at Union Turnpike, Metropolitan Ave etc. (Such overpasses could be made wide enough to include vehicle lanes – partially offsetting the lanes lost to the light rail).

Convert the Rockaway Beach Branch into a p/t park and p/t time rush hour bound express roadway (HOV/HOT?) from the LIE to the Belt Parkway. Have it for vehicle use weekdays only 7am-10am northbound and southbound 3pm-8pm evenings.

I note that similar arrangements are not unheard of. Consider:

*that the outer roadway of the Queensboro (Koch) Bridge has gone back and forth between car and non-car use
*bicycle Sundays on the Bronx River Parkway in Westchester

Philip McManus February 27, 2014 - 2:41 pm

Dear Friends,

We truly believe faster transportation for Queens is the key to our recovery, our unity and our renaissance.

We need to attract more people with more money to create more jobs, more income and reduce unemployment, crime and suffering.

Faster transportation with more access to social, economic, and environmental opportunities will unite the people of Queens and help them increase their income.

Fear of crime in some areas divides, separates and creates poverty.
We must unite and fight for faster transportation and prosperity. Please help us.

Join our Drive By Rally for the Queens Rockaway Beach Line, the new Queens Crosstown. We are looking to increase our public exposure.

Sunday March 9, 2014
2:30 pm to 3:30 pm

Queens Boulevard
and Woodhaven Blvd.
2:30 pm

Metropolitan Avenue
and Woodhaven Blvd.
2:45 pm

Jamaica Avenue
and Woodhaven Blvd.
3:00 pm

Liberty Avenue
and Cross Bay Blvd.
3:15 pm

Please confirm your attendance. We need your help.

We will be carpooling.

We are looking at going to four Queens locations with posters for the Queens RBL.

Please try to make it. It’s mostly a photo opportunity. Fast and furious.

Ask your closest family, friends, transit advocates to volunteer.

We need a driver for each vehicle to move immediately if necessary, no parking delays.

Less than 15 minutes at each location.

We have seven confirmed volunteers.

We are looking for two types of volunteers.

Volunteers who can go to all four locations with a carpool.

And volunteers who can come to one location only.

Tell them less than 15 minutes at each location.

My son will drive an eight passenger van.

Don’t forget to confirm your attendance.

God Bless you.

Please ask your family and friends and commuters to sign our petitions to support the Reactivation of the Queens Rockaway Beach Line, the New Queens Crosstown, eliminate the toll on the Queens Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge for everyone and expand the Queens Rockaway Ferry:




Philip McManus
Queens Public Transit Committee









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