Rockaway Beach Line Reactivation One-Seat Ride to JFK

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Rockaway Beach Line Reactivation One-Seat Ride to JFK

Postby railtrailbiker » Sun Jan 02, 2005 4:48 pm

For years, debate raged over plans to transform the High Line, the defunct Chelsea freight railway, into an elevated public park. Now, as the city and a nonprofit group are moving ahead on those plans, central Queens has set out on a similar mission for its equivalent of the High Line.

Far less celebrated than its Manhattan counterpart, the derelict Rockaway Beach Branch of the Long Island Rail Road, which once ran south from Rego Park all the way to the Rockaway peninsula, survives as rusty trestles and tracks, elevated along much of their route. Inspired by the planned rejuvenation of the High Line, two community boards in central Queens hope to turn parts of the abandoned spur into recreational green space.

On Dec. 14, Community Board 9 adopted a resolution calling for the city to create a bicycle path on the 1.5-mile stretch of the property running through Forest Park and south through Woodhaven and Ozone Park. North of Rockaway Boulevard, the defunct line is now owned partly by the Parks Department and partly by the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

"A bikeway would take this old, abandoned ugly structure and, if you have tree plantings on it and you could beautify it, it would add to the community," said Mary Ann Carey, district manager of Board 9. "It's not something that's going to happen overnight, but we know there is precedent for it."

Community Board 6, meanwhile, plans to study a similar proposal for its segment of the Rockaway Beach Branch in Rego Park and Forest Hills. Scraggly weeds have cloaked much of this rail line, while hundreds of decades-old trees now stand in the elevated corridor along which generations of families took the L.I.R.R. to Rockaway Beach from 1908 until the 1950's.

Maria Thomson, executive director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, acknowledged that turning the Rockaway Beach Branch into parkland would give the added benefit of preventing its resurrection as an active train line. Proposals for reactivation have repeatedly surfaced - and been beaten back by central Queens residents - ever since the line's last operating section was decommissioned in 1962.

"That line runs right behind all our homes and properties on 98th Street," Ms. Thomson said, "and if it were reactivated, it would be a hazard to the residents and their quality of life." But even Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, a longtime proponent of reactivating the train line to give her constituents in the Rockaways a speedier route to Manhattan than the circuitous A train, sees the merit of a linear park along part of the route.

"A bike path for the next 20 or 30 years might not be so bad," she said. "It's a very comfortable use for it in comparison to selling it and putting a building on it. But I'd really like to reactivate it." ... 2high.html
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Postby JoeLIRR » Sun Jan 02, 2005 5:04 pm

"That line runs right behind all our homes and properties on 98th Street," Ms. Thomson said, "and if it were reactivated, it would be a hazard to the residents and their quality of life."

i guss the quality of life was not being distrupted between 1908/1962
maby they need to open there eyes and read a history book and find out what came first.

as i said before, u baught the house nere a abandon or live railline dont be complaining if the abandon line is re activiatd. u knew it was there along with its potential. (sorry you loose)

Go ahead w/ the rail trail, maby leave the trakcs there also

Postby Alcoman » Sun Jan 02, 2005 6:34 pm

With the New York Cross Harbor proposing reactivting the Highline (lets hope they win!) Those (park) plans may be better used a scratch paper!
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Postby BEDT16RMLI » Sun Jan 02, 2005 7:32 pm

all rails to trails do is take beautiful row and ruins them. Like we need more walking paths.

Postby NIMBYkiller » Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:15 pm

I'm with Mike on this one. If you turn it into a walkway, you'll never see rails on it again(not like there's much of a chance now), period. Atleast having it as is preserves the ROW with no interferance.
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Postby BMT » Sun Jan 02, 2005 11:59 pm

I'm a railfan who's also an avid bike rider, so either way I have no problem with what decision is made with the abandoned Rockaway Line property.

Guys, let's be realistic here...there's friggin' Oak trees growing through the tracks at some places on the Rockaway branch...not to mention some encroachment of homes, and or businesses on the ROW. THERE WILL NEVER BE any rail development on the old Rockaway/White Pot Junction Line anymore. Face it, it would be cost prohibitive to get the line in any sort of reasonable shape for passenger service.
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Postby Frank » Mon Jan 03, 2005 1:52 am

I think reactivating the Rockaway ROW is a better option in the long run.
Rails are better than roads!
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Postby Tony Tantillo » Mon Jan 03, 2005 9:25 am

I am also in favor of turning it into a rail trail, although I no longer live in the area.

The only transit option that makes sense is to hook up the NYC subway Rockaway Branch to it and this would cost money better spent elsewhere on the system. This option would require a complete reconstruction of the right of way and a minimum of 4 new stations if one replaces the old LIRR ones (Ozone Park, Brooklyn Manor (Jamaica Avenue), Parkside, and Rego Park. Finally you have build the tie-ins at the end of the lines at Roosevelt Ave. and Howard Beach. If someone wants to get an idea of the right of way condition look at


Better yet you can have a look at the line in person. Take the Q55 bus to Woodhaven Boulevard. The old right of way crosses under Myrtle Avenue just west of Woodhaven Boulevard.
Tony Tantillo

Postby RRChef » Mon Jan 03, 2005 10:05 am

When did ownership of the line transfer to the NYC Parks Department and Administative Services?? I thought it was still owned by the LIRR having never been officially abandoned.

If the line was reopened it would pose less of a hazard to residents than crossing Queens or Woodhaven Blvds. Ever try to cross either?

I have walked various sections of the line in the past. It's a mess that would require the entire line to be completely rebuilt. There are washouts in many places and a number of encroachments especially in the Rego Park- Forest Hills area. The entire line is covered by trees some as big as 18-20 inches in diameter. There are even trees growing on the overpasses. I wouldn't trust any of the overpasses to be safe enough to carry a train and let's not forget the overpass over the Montauk burned years ago.

If it was rebuilt, where would it go? Penn and Rockaway? Would it part of the subway system (which I think is the only logical choice) or run by the LIRR? WOuld subway riders have to change at Liberty Ave to another train to get to Penn? Who will pay for this? Too many questions for which there are no good answers.

The only use that made sense for the line was as a one seat/one stop Penn-JFK express and that is now out of the question. The smart play now is it get it into the railbanking system so it could be preserved possibly for the future.
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Postby RRChef » Mon Jan 03, 2005 10:17 am

I just saw your post about the NYCH proposal to reopen the High Line.When did this happen? What business do the think they can get there? If it was any other company, I might think it was possible, but this company has proven itself to be useless in the last 20 years. I don't think it's likely as there are too many heavy hitters supporting the park proposal.
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Postby JoeLIRR » Mon Jan 03, 2005 2:13 pm

i know that the HighLine goes through the buildings, but why can it be part of a possible LIRR down town expension. run a train out of NYP along the High Line to where that big freight station was. also wouldednt this also make more yard space?

to make the High Line feisabel for freight service wouldent most of thoes businesses that "are not" shippers of manufactures have to be relocated and freight business brought it?

i also can see the High Line as a subway expansion maby part of the 7 train expansion?

all in all rebuilding the highline would totally require many compromises because the ROW goes through actual buildings that have blocked the ROW off.

and for the Rockaway branch, that is where the airtrain should have ran.
it might have been cheeper and less of an hassel to rebuild the railroad that is still there then to build that hitious structure at jamaica and alond the van wyik.

options that is seen would work as follows:
1) Air train to rockaway beach branch, then change to LIRR into woodside /NYP (that change cannot be argued b/c you still have change at jamaica)

2) LIRR from NYP-JFK and no seprate train for air train use (LIRR would have ran that service)

3)>> well the air train is here to stay and we aint getting rid of it so i guess maby a rail trail would be a good idea, atleast it will still (perserve) the ROW for possible future use.

Postby KFRG » Mon Jan 03, 2005 3:46 pm

I say turn it into a railtrail, just do it after I walk the line as is current. For those of you into the whole outdoors/bike thing you know how beautiful paths such as the Motor Parkway in Alley Pond Park, or the trail thru Bethpage St. Pk are. This will be similar.


Postby BMT » Mon Jan 03, 2005 6:21 pm

If indeed the Rockaway Branch is turned into a railtrail, as a railfan I would certainly like to see some LIRR asthetics perserved for future generations so that the trail will have some historic value for visiting railfans. I believe a similar situation exists for some rails-to-trails upstate NY and across the country. Like a plaque letting visitors know the historic significance of the trail as well as some 'railroad paraphrenalia' along the trails (a non-functioning semaphore or an old LIRR signal head on a post, etc.).
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Postby Retroboy » Mon Jan 03, 2005 9:03 pm

If one wanted to walk the Right of way, where would they start? is there any maps or anything of that nature that would be of help?

Postby Tony Tantillo » Mon Jan 03, 2005 9:33 pm

Don't do it !!

Read the disclaimer from the OldNYC website !

" contributor Bernard Ente shares with us this public service announcement: " ' A warning to anybody who might want to explore the route - it is very heavy with thorns, poison ivy, and ticks. There are also occasional packs of wild dogs and the rare meeting with some homeless people. Not the garden spot of the world, is it?' "
Tony Tantillo


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