In 1908, Long Island Rail Road engineers came up with idea to raise the line above ground level.
This change was to prevent the number of accidents that were occurring at the street pedestrian level with both automobiles and people. The second reason was to give the train an express route. Also at this time the steam train was abandoned and was electrified with a third rail.
One of the most notorious and dangerous of the LIRR underpasses in Queens was the one built in 1909 at Woodhaven Boulevard and Eliot Avenue. When it was first built, Woodhaven Boulevard was called Trotting Course Lane, and the piece of property it was built on wasn’t called Rego Park but was known as Elmhurst.
The area was sparsely populated surrounded by the farms of Middle Village. Nobody envisioned it to become the nightmare it has turned into today. Originally, the north side under the bridge had a large wide pedestrian walkway just like the south side still has today.
As the flow of traffic increased, the walkway was taken away and replaced with a tiny path shielded with a wall of metal plate that was completed in 1939 for the flow of traffic for the World’s Fair and opening of Ascension School and Church which was re-named Resurrection-Ascension in 1951.
Despite adding a metal wall and adding red warning lights, deaths of school children and adults still happened. The metal wall was extended outside the underpass to help increase the shield. Today this outdated relic still stands with a clearance height of only 13 feet.