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Environmental Group Calls for Queens 'High Line' Feasibility Study

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | March 15, 2013 12:22pm

QUEENS — An abandoned Queens rail line that some want to turn into the borough's version of High Line may soon get its first design.

The Trust for Public Land — an organization working on developing the project to transform 3.5-miles of abandoned railroad tracks into an elevated public park — issued a request for proposals Thursday, and is looking for a company to conduct a feasibility study.   

The project received a $467,000 grant for the study from the state last year.

The derelict Rockaway Line, which closed in 1962 and has since become a dumping ground covered with empty bottles and graffiti, connects Forest Hills and Rego Park with Richmond Hill and Ozone Park.

Marc Matsil, New York State director for the Trust for Public Land, said the winner will be picked in the next couple of months.

One of the goals, he said, will be to generate support for the project among elected officials and Queens communities and to get their input.

“We want to have a firm that has experience with community processes,” he said.

The Trust for Public Land has been working on the project with Friends of the QueensWay, a group of residents advocating for the project.

Once the company is chosen, the study will take less than a year to complete, according to Matsil.

The analysis will include engineering and environmental components. It will check the structural integrity of the tracks, test soil, estimate the cost of construction and identify the funding sources.

It will also come up with a design that will incorporate various ideas and concepts, said Matsil.

Fundraising for the project is under way and they have already raised about $1,000,000, including the state grant, according to Matsil.

The project would add much-needed green space to the borough, advocates say, and it would make biking in the area easier.

“It is rare in the city to be able to bike uninterrupted for 3.5 miles,” Matsil said.

The QueensWay supporters also aim to build a “Cultural Greenway," spotlighting more than 100 ethnic groups that live in Queens.

The project faces opposition from various groups including the Rockaway Transit Coalition which proposes to reactivate the train service. Some residents think that the old rail line should not be developed at all.