Photo: Jeanne Noonan for New York Daily News
Since the dawn of the High Line, every derelict railway has become prime real estate. The downtown New York attraction has inspired a string of impersonators around the world, as cities immediately caught on to the frenzy for linear parks and sought to duplicate its formula for steroidal gentrification. But just east of the High Line in Queens, New York, it seems that the unbridled fervor for a glitzy High Line imitation may be snuffed by the borough’s characteristic pragmatism. As the New York Daily News reports, a plan to turn a former Long Island Rail Road-operated rail line in southern Queens into “QueensWay” Park has met resistance from a group of locals. Opponents of QueensWay Park wish to see the tracks restored instead as a working railway that would serve what is still a somewhat inaccessible though geographically vast section of New York City.
The track, which was discontinued in the early 1960s, spans across a considerable stretch of Queens, running from Rockaway to Rego Park. While a growing group of supporters are pushing to see the High Line effect take off in their neighborhood, a small group of transit advocates, including assemblyman Philip Goldfeder, is actively speaking out against the creation of a park. Goldfeder has the massive community of disgruntled Queens commuters in mind, saying “those same communities that are pushing [the QueensWay] proposal are privileged with commutes of 30 minutes or less to midtown Manhattan.”
Proponents of the park recognize the dearth of public transportation in Queens, but their response is equally hardheaded: the abandoned railway has been idle for over five decades, and not only has the infrastructure been severely deteriorated, but the railway also runs through dense neighborhoods that did not exist when its tracks were first laid down. Nonetheless, the promise of urban beautification has certainly done nothing to distract Queens residents from their appeal for better transportation.
Interestingly, one commenter on the Daily News saw the impasse as an opportunity to suggest a decisive turn to transportation alternatives, namely the construction of bike- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure as an innovative compromise. With the city’s much-anticipated Bike Share program slated to hit the streets this year, elevated bike routes may be a progressive next step.
[Images via the New York Observer]