Councilman Grodenchik Secures $5.25 Million to Repave the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway

The Vanderbilt Motorparkway is as good as a superhighway to anyone who walks, runs, or bikes in Northeastern Queens. The scenic trail winds through residential neighborhoods and connects Alley Pond and Cunningham Parks.

Originally constructed in the 1920’s, it’s needed and received little maintenance since. The last time it was repaved was in the 1970’s.

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Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens) recently requested the funds to resurface the popular neighborhood amenity and secured an initial $1.25 million.

At a Town Hall meeting last Thursday, Mayor De Blasio announced that the City Council would grant his request to repave the entire trail and allocate an additional $4 million to the project!

“It was like a civic Christmas cometh early!!!” neighborhood activist Tammy Osherov replied.

While the initial funds were only enough to pave from Winchester Boulevard to Springfield Boulevard, the total $5.25 million is enough to cover the full length, to Holy Cow Playground near St. Francis Preparatory School.

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At a recent scoping meeting with the Parks Department, Eastern Queens Greenway pointed out that the previous repaving narrowed the road width at various points. The historic roadbed extends to the concrete boundaries on either side. Although the asphalt has eroded in many places, the right of way remains intact and most un-encroached upon by mature, native vegetation. Much of the edge vegetation consists of invasive species, like knotgrass, which the Parks Department is actively trying to remove in order to preserve the natural ecosystem.

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A wider path will enable more people, especially families, children, and seniors, to safely enjoy a range of activities in the park, including walking, jogging, running, dog-walking, cycling, roller-blading, skate boarding, commuting, bird-watching, sight-seeing, and spending time with family. Eastern Queens Greenway hopes that the historic width can remain consistent throughout the entire facility, but understands that this may not be possible at certain bottlenecks, specifically between Hollis Hills Terrace and Francis Lewis Boulevard.

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The first phase, from Winchester Blvd to Springfield Blvd, especially warrants the full width because of the steep hills and sharp curves. Cyclists coast downhill at higher speeds here than almost anywhere else on the path. Many of the bridges are still maintained at their original size, but the path tapers in on either side.
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Eastern Queens Greenway has also confirmed with Parks, that before construction begins (likely in Spring 2019) the department will implement a signed detour route for cyclists and pedestrians through Alley Pond Park. Cyclists and runners of all ages and skill levels depend on this path for commuting and recreation and should not be told to “just take Union Turnpike,” an unsafe thoroughfare which lacks any cycling infrastructure. Signs are necessary, since it is difficult to access a map or phone while jogging or riding and many paths through the park do not show up on GPS systems.
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The Vanderbilt Motor Parkway is a treasure of Queens and Long Island. Maintaining and connecting the remaining infrastructure is a boon to the region and the community it runs through. Long, continuous, car-free trails through natural areas are coveted amenities. The Motor Parkway East initiative aims to extend the Vanderbilt to the Queens-Nassau border, where it can connect to the existing parts on Long Island. Eventually, we want to see the trail run from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn all the way to Montauk.
While the entire $5.25 million will only fund new asphalt, Eastern Queens Greenway hopes that in the future, our government will fund additional improvements. Clearer signage and way-finding throughout Vanderbilt and the entire regional trail network would help people navigate the trail the surrounding parks and neighborhoods. Benches near path would enable the less-energetic to stop and rest.
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Eastern Queens Greenway thanks Councilman Grodenchik and Mayor Bill de Blasio for this investment in historic preservation, our communities, and a sustainable future for the region. We look forward to celebrating when the entire repaving is complete.

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