Wellness Way (aka Project Underway)

A pedestrian corridor of demapped roadway that serves as a hub for local events focused on improving the health and well-being of our community

introductory photo

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

The Rockaway Freeway underpass is underutilized space that should be planned and designed to benefit the community by connecting the east and west ends of the peninsula and to provide a safer and more equitable route for people of all ages to use when traveling home, to work, and to 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-train tracks. Below is our initial brochure, A Better Way Thru Rockaway, outlining community needs and hopes for the project in reconnecting Rockaway through alternative transportation and a richer public realm.

After years of collaboration with the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), the project was renamed the "Wellness Way." In 2020, RISE and DOT developed a partnership to pilot a site adjacent to the Beach 60th Street subway platform, to activate the roadway for pedestrian use and host community events, including a "drive-thru" farm share pickup for low- and middle-income residents to receive fresh healthy organic produce; musical performances; public art installations, and regular COVID-19 pop-up vaccination and test distribution site.

In 2022, RISE led a community design charette, with local stakeholders, including Living City Project’s CityGAP students in collaboration with RISE’s Shore Corps interns, 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 Rockaway Market Street @ Beach 60th, taking place every Saturday, June through October.

These efforts have created safer streets and have improved the health of our community through in-person 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 Wellness Way. We encourage the public to take the Wellness Way Survey to share your thoughts and regularly check our Events calendar to attend upcoming activities.