BQE Rehab Update: Some Perspective from the BHA

There’s been much discussion over the past several days about plans to widen the BQE. BHA President Jane McGroarty had this to say on the subject:

As part of NYS Department of Transportation’s study to rehabilitate the triple Cantilever portion of I-278, the DOT is taking a preliminary look at a number of options that include repairing, reconstructing or relocating the highway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street. At the last Stakeholder Advisory Committee Meeting on May 26th, the consultant and the State presented some initial sketches: (a) keeping the existing highway alignment with very minor changes, (b) keeping the existing alignment and fully compliant with DOT roadway design criteria; and (c) a tunnel alignment.

Because Proposal (b) was fully compliant, it was an exercise in seeing what might happen if the project were not constrained by existing structures, parkland, etc. Several audience members misunderstood the investigative nature of the presentation and became concerned that NYSDOT was preparing to seize their properties as part of the project. In the era of the 24-hour news cycle, the story picked up momentum by the media and was blown out of proportion.

As one of the member groups of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee, the BHA would oppose any taking of residential property in our Historic District. We do not believe that NYSDOT would seriously consider a solution that would take private property but we also understand that as part of any initial design process, engineers examine many alternatives in order to learn about the constraints, complexities and opportunities in each potential solution.

Many citizens and elected officials, in the past, have criticized NYS DOT because it had ignored citizen input on proposed projects. In this project and others, the State has subscribed to an open process that includes the participation of citizens and community groups. All proposed alternatives will be screened using the evaluation criteria – and property taking is one important aspect of the criteria. This is a long, complicated project with plenty of opportunity for public input.

In this kerfuffle the NYS DOT was a victim of technology. In the past, architects and engineers used yellow tracing paper to show a design in process; it made clients understand that things could be changed. Today digital design make schemes “look” fully realized when they are simply sketches.

Click here for more information on the BHA’s position regarding the BQE.

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  • nabeguy

    Sketch or not, when you see a red line going through some of the premier properties in the north Heights, what conclusions are we left to draw? The fact that this kind of thinking is even reaching the light of day is abhorrent. These are like test borings to gauge whether this plan will run into opposition….hopefully, the answer has been made clear.

  • my2cents

    All it shows is that transparency can suck, and that people can’t be exposed to every aspect of the design process because things are taken out of context.

  • Nancy

    I’m with you, nabeguy. In the end, it won’t matter what we want. they will do as they choose, and to hell with preservation and the neighborhood. I don’t see this reaction as “blown out of proportion”.

  • bg

    They just need to drop it down a level – Furman st. is virtually unused space, you can widen both directions without touching the Heights and still come in low enough under the bridge.

  • statestreet

    Can they add a bike lane to the BQE?

  • Nancy

    Made the front page of the NYPost on-line

  • EHinBH

    Just a vent: This really makes me question the way I think. All my wife and I talk about when driving in the City, around Westchester or on Long Island, is the fact that traffic needs a fix. That we all need to sacrifice to make life better for everyone. That if traffic gets any worse nobody will be able to live here… Now, here is a possible solution for one road and I am livid. Such a hypocrite I am. But still, how can the first historic district be destroyed? Even just talk about the possibility of this happening may scare people away from buying in the neighborhood. What a mess. In any event, perhaps we can all rest easy and hope that this was all really was just blown out of proportion.

  • AAR

    Ms. McGroarty: The reaction is not blown out of proportion. In BH we are close to the experience of Prospect Heights and the use of eminent domain to destroy part of a neighborhood. Our local media, neighborhood citizens and the BHA, which once kept BH from being destroyed, must keep on top of this.

  • communitarian

    AAR– exactly what I was thinking. If Ratnerville is happening, why wouldn’t NYC/NYS be willing to consider this, too?