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Design Firms Plan Queens 'High Line' on Abandoned Railway

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | August 20, 2013 6:52am
 Study on viablity of the Queensway to begin.
Companies Chosen For QueensWay Feasibility Study
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QUEENS — An abandoned Queens rail line could be transformed into the borough's version of Manhattan's High Line.

Two companies — WXY architecture + urban design and dlandstudio — have been selected from among 29 firms to lead a study looking at the feasibility of turning the QueensWay into a public park.

Their selection followed a request for proposals issued by the Trust for Public Land in March.

The firms were chosen because of their strong environmental and structural engineering background. Their proposals also had a significant community-engagement component, according to the Trust for Public Land.

The companies' portfolios include projects such as Transmitter Park in Greenpoint, the Sherman Creek waterfront overhaul and a redesign of the area around Astor Place and Cooper Square in the East Village.

“The study is going to begin immediately and it will take about nine months,” said Andrea Crawford, vice chairwoman of Queens Community Board 9 and a member of the Friends of the QueensWay, an advocacy group supporting the project.

“We are very excited and this is certainly a pivotal time in the development of the QueensWay.”

The analysis will include checking the structural integrity of the tracks and will examine the level of erosion, test soil, estimate the cost of construction and identify the funding sources. The winning firms will also work with the community during workshops and meetings to develop a design, according to the Trust for Public Land.

“This study is an important next step in making the vision of reclaiming the QueensWay as a green connector and cultural corridor a reality,” said Claire Weisz of WXY architecture + urban design in a statement.

If the $400,000 study determines that the project is feasible, the QueensWay advocates will have to raise funds for the proposed park.

As of now, Crawford said, roughly $1 million has been raised from private philanthropists, several foundations, the state and the city, including a $467,000 grant from the state’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Regional Economic Development Council

Advocates say the project would add much-needed green space, which would be used by 250,000 people in Queens. It would also make biking in the area easier.

The park would include a number of elements illustrating the borough’s diversity, including art, sculpture and food.

“The QueensWay is going to be New York’s next great park,” said Marc Matsil, the Trust for Public Land’s New York State director, in a statement.

But the project also faces opposition from groups like the Rockaway Transit Coalition and elected officials including Rep. Gregory Meeks and Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, who want to reactivate the train service.

Some residents think that the old rail line should not be developed at all.

The Rockaway rail line opened in 1877, connecting Forest Hills, Rego Park, Richmond Hill and Ozone Park. Its ridership declined after a fire in 1950.

It was finally closed in 1962 and has since become home to little more than weeds, trash and graffiti.