QUEENS — A portion of the historic Vanderbilt Motor Parkway, a century-old former road that currently serves as a bicycle and pedestrian path, will soon be repaved, according to Councilman Barry Grodenchik, who secured $1.25 million for the project.
The 3-mile greenway, which dates to 1908 and connects Cunningham Park and Alley Pond Park, has not been resurfaced in years, making it bumpy for bicyclists and a tripping hazard for pedestrians and joggers, locals said.
“It’s our version of the High Line,” said Grodenchik, who allocated a portion of his discretionary funds for the project, in addition to money from the Queens City Council delegation, he said.
“It existed as a city park for decades and many people use it every day," he noted. "It’s perfect for young mothers with children and it’s perfect for seniors to walk."
Delighted to announce I have secured $1.25 million in funding to begin the rehabilitation of the Long Island/Vanderbilt Motor Parkway pic.twitter.com/wgL6YaTqDw— Barry Grodenchik (@BarryGrodenchik) June 6, 2017
Grodenchik said he was not sure when the rehabilitation would begin, but added that it would most likely start with the most damaged area at the parkway's eastern end, near Union Turnpike and Winchester Boulevard.
It was not clear how much of the greenway, also known as the Long Island Motor Parkway, will be repaved with the money Grodenchik secured, but he said he hopes its entire length will eventually be resurfaced.
"It was too much to tackle at once, but as we get more money, we will do the whole thing," he said.
The preliminary estimate for repaving the entire stretch — from Winchester Boulevard to 209th Street — is about $4 million, the Parks Department said.
Joby Jacob, a biology professor who lives nearby and founded Motor Parkway East, a group advocating for the expansion of the greenway, said he was thrilled to hear about the upcoming revamp.
“We always say it’s a road through Queens and it's history,” Jacob said. “It’s a place where you can get away from it all and just think. I use it all the time.”
The parkway, which originally ran from Queens to Lake Ronkonkoma, was built by William Kissam Vanderbilt. It was closed three decades later after the Grand Central Parkway was built nearby. Robert Moses later transformed the Queens section of the road into a bike path, according to the Parks Department.
Queens bicyclists hope that the greenway will eventually be extended from the corner of Winchester Boulevard and Union Turnpike to the border with Nassau County, which is currently redeveloping other portions of the former Long Island Motor Parkway into a trail for hikers and bicyclists.
Grodenchik said his office is planning to soon meet with state officials to discuss the proposal.