QUEENS — A plan to transform 3.5 miles of abandoned railroad tracks into the QueensWay — a public park similar to Manhattan’s High Line — just got a push from the state, which allocated more than $440,000 to design the first portion of the project, officials said.
The funding will be used to design the “Northern Gateway” section of the proposed QueensWay in Rego Park, the Trust For Public Land said.
The entire park would run from Rego Park to Ozone Park.
The first phase of the design would include a 1.5-mile-long stretch of the proposed QueensWay, according to the Regional Economic Development Council.
“The section will retain and feature a large number of mature trees, and will include a nature-themed adventure playground, large bioretention basins and other green infrastructure that can absorb large quantities of stormwater, and access paths to adjacent streets,” the Trust For Public Land said in a statement.
“This really moves the project along,” said Andrea Crawford of the Friends of the QueensWay referring to the grant. “What happens after design? You build.”
In 2012, the state also provided $467,000 to conduct a feasibility study of the QueensWay project.
As part of the analysis, the group conducted a series of workshops, during which local residents had a chance to offer their suggestions about the project.
According to the study, which was released earlier this year, it would cost about $120 million to build the park. The plan envisions bicycle and pedestrian paths, a number of sports facilities and an adventure park as part of the proposed QueensWay.
The study, Crawford said, will serve as a "structural guideline" for the future design.
According to the Trust for Public Land, more than 320,000 people live in the neighborhoods within a mile of the proposed QueensWay, which would “boost local businesses, provide safe access to recreation; ... provide alternative transportation choices; and ... help fill a significant park equity void,” said Marc Matsil, the state's director for the Trust for Public Land, in a statement.
Matsil said he expects the design of the first phase to be ready in about a year.
The project faces opposition from several elected officials, including Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, who want to reactivate the train service.