QUEENS — Queens College will conduct a study to determine the best use for the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line that some are proposing be turned into the Queens version of the High Line, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder announced Monday.
The line, which runs from Rego Park to Ozone Park, was closed in 1962, but recently various groups proposed ideas to reuse the old railway.
Some want to transform it into the QueensWay, the borough's version of Manhattan's High Line. Others, including Goldfeder, support reactivating the rail line, while a number of residents said it should not be developed at all.
Goldfeder said that the analysis is necessary to balance a feasibility study currently being performed by groups supporting the proposed park. That study, he said, is “one-sided" in support of building the QueensWay.
Marc Matsil of the Trust for Public Land, which advocates for the QueensWay, said that a $467,000 grant that the group received from the state’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Regional Economic Development Council, was specifically to study the QueensWay.
He said the group would not have received the funding if the study was intended to analyze anything other than a park.
The Queens College study will be led by faculty and students from the college’s Department of Urban Studies, Goldfeder said, and will determine the transportation needs, costs and the feasibility of the various proposed uses of the old rail line.
“Now that the MTA has signaled an interest in reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line as an efficient and cost-effective way to significantly increase public transit for Queens residents, it’s important we do appropriate studies to determine the next steps,” Goldfeder said in a statement.
The MTA’s recent 20-year Capital Needs Assessment suggested that reactivating the railway could help commuters traveling within the borough and to Manhattan.
"I believe that increasing public transportation is the right choice and I look forward to the results of the study and working with my colleges and the community to fund and implement next steps," Goldfeder added.
The study will take approximately nine months and is expected to be completed by the end of next summer. The state could provide anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 in capital grant funding for the study, if needed, according to Goldfeder's office.