Wellness Way (aka Project Underway)

a pedestrian corridor of demapped roadway; serving as a community hub for local events focused on improving the health and wellbeing of our community.  

introductory photo

Large portions of Rockaway freeway have been demapped, privatized and been largely inaccessible to the public. If the community is not actively engaged in planning now it will continue to be divided into small parcels that will never be able to serve as a transit option for the local community.

The Rockaway freeway underpass is underutilized space that should be planned and designed, to benefit the community by connecting both the east and west ends of the Peninsula together and provide a safer and more equitable route for people of all ages to use when traveling home, to work and school.  

In 2015, RISE spearheaded Project Underway, a community-led initiative to actively engage local stakeholders and city agencies in developing a plan to better utilize the demapped roadbed under the elevated "A" line track. Below is our initial brochure, A Better Way Thru Rockaway outlining community needs and the hopes for the project in reconnecting Rockaway through alternative transportation and a richer public realm.  

After years of collaboration with the NYC Dept of Transportation (DOT), the project was renamed, the "Wellness Way". In 2020, RISE & NYC DOT developed a partnership to pilot a site adjacent to the Beach 60th St subway platform, to activate the roadway for pedestrian use and host community events including: a "drive-thru" farm share pick up, for low & middle income residents to receive fresh healthy organic produce; musical performances; public art installations and regular COVID19 pop-up vaccination and test distribution site. 

In 2022, RISE led a community design charette, with local stakeholders to get input on designs for a flexible outdoor space to further activate this space with a focus on cultural arts, health and the environment, followed by a design/build project in May to implement these ideas. The site is currently being used for weekly musical performances and the Rockaway Market Street taking place every Saturday, June-October.

These efforts have created safer streets and improved the health of our community through inperson events, better access to healthy food and bolstered our resilience through more collaboration with community partners. 

Your support is crucial to the longevity and success of the Wellness Way. We encourage the public to take the Wellness Way Survey to share your thoughts and regularly check our calendar of events to attend upcoming activities.