In our Fourth Regional Plan, RPA calls for expanding and improving public space in the urban core. And it is clear that many neighborhoods in Queens would benefit from more safe space for people who walk or bike. That is why RPA supports the majority of the vision of the Queensway project, a community proposal to transform the abandoned Rockaway Beach Branch, into a greenway.
Starting just south of the Long Island Rail Road’s Main Line in Rego Park, the Rockaway Beach Branch runs south through Forest Park and into Woodhaven and Ozone Park. This line has been abandoned for over 50 years, and RPA believes that 80% of it could be turned into a greenway that would give hundreds of thousands of nearby residents more access to open space and also a safer connection north-south through Queens.
We also believe that for the small portion south of Atlantic Avenue, the new rail connection to JFK should be the priority. This is vital to being able to create a one-seat ride to JFK Airport from several parts of Manhattan. This new rail service would reduce travel times to 30 minutes or less from midtown Manhattan and provide direct access to Downtown Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan from the airport, along with easy connections to major regional centers in New Jersey, Lower Hudson Valley and Connecticut. This connection would also add the capacity to not only serve the JFK traffic of today, but also that of the future.
The Queensway would bring significant local benefits and has the potential to be a citywide attraction. But the project also needs to be balanced with the regional transportation benefits that a new rail connection to JFK would bring. RPA believes this is not an either or, but that both are important projects and should be done.