7. Rockaway Beach Branch

Queensway Metropolitan Avenue
Remnants of the abandoned LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch.

The QueensWay project is a plan to convert the former LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch into a public park. Construction for the Rockaway Beach Branch began in 1877, though it was not fully completed until the 1920s. The branch connected the Rockaways with White Pot Junction near Kew Gardens, Queens. Track fires in the mid-1900s by Jamaica Bay led to the decline of the branch, which was abandoned since 1962. The southern section of the branch was converted into subway lines by the city in 1955, followed a year later by reduced LIRR operations between Rego Park and Ozone Park.

There have been proposals to reactivate the branch, though all have failed due to costs, environmental impacts, and negative effects on residents. Instead, the Friends of the QueensWay project was created in 2011 to create a park around the abandoned tracks, which extend for 3.5 miles. The project has received support from figures including U.S. Representative Grace Meng and Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. The QueensLink is another proposal for a new north-south transit link in Queens that would simultaneously make new park space adjacent to the revitalized transit route.