On February 6, 2017, NYCEDC released the Sunnyside Yard Feasibility Study, a comprehensive study evaluating the technical feasibility of decking over active rail and related facilities in Sunnyside Yard, which sits on approximately 180 acres of western Queens. The release of the study concluded a year-and-a-half-long process led by the City and a team of consultants with significant input from Amtrak and a wide range of community stakeholders, elected officials, and City agencies.
Sunnyside Yard Feasibility Study
Sunnyside Yard is one of the busiest rail yards in the country and a key train storage yard and maintenance hub for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. It also serves New Jersey Transit and Long Island Rail Road, which is developing storage tracks and maintenance facilities there as part of its East Side Access Project. With Amtrak and MTA currently undertaking critical capital investments in its rail infrastructure, this is a unique moment for the City to coordinate long-term planning for the future of the Yard.
Transforming Sunnyside Yard can bring meaningful change to Western Queens, including:
- Better transportation options
- New employment opportunities
- Improved access to jobs
- Public parks and open spaces
- Schools and libraries
- Mixed-income housing
- Community and cultural centers
While overbuild development at Sunnyside Yard has been discussed for nearly a century, this study is the first to comprehensively address railroad operation constraints, structural engineering requirements, market conditions, and urban design standards in a cohesive manner. The project team met with elected officials, City agencies, and more than 20 community groups to gather local knowledge about the surrounding neighborhoods and inform the analysis.
The study established a series of planning guidelines based on engineering, urban design, and financial constraints to inform future analysis and decision-making. The study found that decking and construction is feasible in the majority of the Yard, with approximately 15-20% infeasible, predominantly over the highly-trafficked Main Line. The study tested several hypothetical scenarios and identified certain sections of the Yard that are ideal for vertical construction and others for a range of parks, roads, community facilities, and open spaces.
The study concluded that reasonable next steps would be drafting a plan that includes:
- Robust stakeholder engagement to solicit feedback on community objectives and opportunities
- Detailed planning analysis to identify discrete early phases of a potential project, local and regional transportation solutions, a refined development program, and a strategy for governance and implementation
- Close coordination with Amtrak in its planned capital investments
The process of drafting a plan for Sunnyside Yard will involve a combination of technical analysis by a consultant team, input from the community, and guidance from City stakeholders to meet public priorities, all in coordination with Amtrak, the MTA, and other rail operators. Planning for the next generation requires careful and incremental steps over several decades, ensuring that each phase responds to the needs and priorities of the surrounding neighborhoods and the City.