Boring? New, Lengthy Tunnel Idea Proposed for BQE

Cobble Hill community activist Roy Sloane has proposed re-routing the BQE through what would be the longest highway tunnel in North America, taking it from the Navy Yard, under parts of Fort Greene, Downtown Brooklyn, and Boerum Hill, to the Prospect Expressway. The extraordinarily ambitious two-and-a-half-mile tunnel is one of several options for replacing the beleaguered highway that is being considered by the state Department of Transportation, but it is already emerging as a favorite.

“It’s brilliant,” said Allen Swerdlowe, an architect participating in state-sponsored design workshops, who praised the tunnel idea because it would discourage traffic-enraged drivers from exiting the highway as they do now and driving on local streets.

Swerdlowe does not, however, agree with Sloane’s idea of keeping the existing stretch of the BQE, including the cantilevered portion below the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, that would be bypassed by the tunnel, open for local traffic. He believes that this will just eventuate in additional traffic volume. Instead, he suggests as a possibility shutting down this roadway and converting it to recreational use, in the manner of the High Line in Manhattan.

Other, shorter tunnel proposals would bypass the troubled cantilevered stretch, but would link to the “ditch” carrying the BQE parallel to Hicks Street past Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, and would involve tunneling under at least part of the Heights.

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  • T.K. Small

    I really dig this idea!

  • another jen

    some deep thought went into this proposal.

  • Arch Stanton

    I think its a well grounded idea. Of course, the city will have to root out many problems before it can dig in and get it built. The last thing we need is another money pit.

  • my2cents

    Sounds like a Cheops project of the first order Like Boston’s Big DIg.
    The end result was fantastic, but it cost billions, took a decade, and was full of shady deals and crooked contractors. Still, it would be preferable to knocking down the North Heights. My question though is why they can’t just shore up the cantilever by building structure under it and call it a day.

  • Demonter

    What will happen to the current cantilevered section of the BQE? How about converting it to a lush “hanging gardens” of Brooklyn Heights? It should be something beautiful that we not cause any more commotion in the neighborhood. Go green all the way….

  • Demonter

    “…will not cause any more commotion”…..Demonter

  • The3rdMan

    Please please please let this happen. Pretty please.

  • The Ghost of Robert Moses

    Bwah hahaha! This is going to cost more then the big dig up in Boston and is never going to work. Bwahahah! – GHOSTOFROBERTMOSES

  • resident

    According to Gothamist, there’s debate on what would happen to the bypassed route, including the cantilevered section. On the one hand, it could become a “local route,” serving the bridges and local traffic. On the other, all or part of it could be discontinued/dismantled.

    I’m sort of torn. The superstructure is there, and with presumably much lighter traffic, the cantilevered design probably could be more easily updated to have a more useful life, and discontinuing the route will lead to more local traffic, since people will have a further drive to get to their destinations. But then again, who is to say that in 20/30 years the “local” BQE wouldn’t be just as clogged, as the guy quoted in gothamist is concerned about.

    Maybe a combination approach would work. Have a SPUR connecting the bridges to the BQE to the north, with everything south of the brooklyn bridge being discontinued to the bypass. Forcing south brooklyners and staten island traffic to use the brooklyn battery tunnel to get into the city.

    Maybe the best idea is a comb

  • danno

    They’ll annex the cantilevered sections into the “park” and build condos on the middle levels. Very elegant.

    Among the many problems with the tunnel is the requirement of exits onto the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. I sort of understand where/how the tunnel might connect onto the elevated BQE at Tillary and Gold, but how could one build entrance ramps from the tunnel to the bridges without destroying Tillary Street and cutting off the Heights from the east?

    Oh — and the largest backups on the existing highway are from traffic exiting to the bridges. Anyone in favor of underground traffic jams?

  • JJ

    A tunnel would be amazing, although costly and take yeaaaaarrrss. Would be great for all the people who live at 1 Brooklyn Bridge Park. If the BQE isn’t there anymore and the “former” part of the BQE is turned into a promenade or recreational area…

  • http://deleted anon

    Cool idea. Go for it! Great ideas usually do come from regular people who just happen to know their neighborhoods and the needs of other neighbors.

  • BKC

    What about the vents?

    Whose homes will they be tearing down for the tunnel’s exhaust vents?

    Or worse, who will suddenly be living next to an exhaust vent?