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Old railroad track being transformed into "Queensway" park

Exploring the "Queensway" project in Rego Park
Exploring the "Queensway" project in Rego Park 03:01

NEW YORK -- There could be a new way to explore the outdoors in Queens. 

A once bustling railroad track may be turned into a park, similar to Manhattan's High Line. 

As CBS2's Elijah Westbrook reported, it might not seem like much for now, but the rusted railroad bridge over Yellowstone Boulevard in Rego Park is about to get a makeover. Not only that bridge, but the entire former 3.5 mile stretch of the Rockaway Beach Branch rail line once owned by the Long Island Rail Road more than 50 years ago.

"Phase one will convert abandoned railroad tracks, which have been used as abandoned dumping grounds, into a five acre linear park," Mayor Eric Adams announced. 

There will be space for people to walk, run, bike and explore the great outdoors. It will connect folks to schools, businesses and 10 bus lines, according to the city. 

"This project will be managed by both Parks and EDC. We'll have our green space experts, as well as our contracting experts working together to deliver, hopefully on budget and ahead of schedule," said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. 

The city recently announced phase one of the space is getting a $35 million transformation as part of an initiative called "Queensway." Phase one will consist of nearly a mile of trail space and park land starting in Forest Hills. 

"It's a good idea to touch it up a bit and make it a better use of space, and having it behind the fence and decaying here," Forest Hills resident Vincent Ador told Westbrook.

While there's a great deal of support to move ahead with this project, some folks Westbrook spoke with in the Forest Hills neighborhood said they would like to see the space converted into a subway line, connecting people in Queens to Brooklyn.

"I think it would be really beneficial to have it as a better means of getting to Brooklyn. It's an inconvenient travel period right now," resident Chris Hayes said. "If there are better means of getting there, that should be analyzed as well."

That idea is not totally out of the picture. There are still ongoing talks of the space turning into the Interborough Express of Queenslink -- a subway line originating from the area that would terminate in southern Brooklyn. 

The mayor hasn't completely scrapped the possibility but drew a line about what he feels is more vital. 

"We've learned during COVID-19 how important it is to have good quality open space, and it can't be in one part of the city," Adams said. 

For now, construction on the project could start as early as next year. Environmental assessment studies will continue on the Interborough Express and, who knows, both a trail and subway line could be part of the plan. 

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