4. The abandoned LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch starts in Rego Park
The LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch, a 3.5-mile stretch of abandoned rail, started in Rego Park and extends to Rockaway Beach. Construction for the Rockaway Beach Branch began in 1877, though it was not fully completed until the 1920s. Track fires that erupted in the mid-1900s by Jamaica Bay led to the rail line’s abandonment in 1962. The southern section of the branch was converted into subway lines in 1955, followed a year later by reduced LIRR operations between Rego Park and Ozone Park, Queens.
The QueensWay project is a plan to convert the former LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch into a public park. There have been proposals to reactivate the branch, though all have struggled to do so due to issues such as environmental impacts and high costs. The Friends of the QueensWay project was created in 2011 to establish a park around the abandoned tracks, receiving support from figures including U.S. Representative Grace Meng and Senator Toby Ann Stavisky. The QueensLink is another proposal for a north-south transit link in Queens that would make new park space adjacent to the revitalized transit route.