State DOT Drops Environmental Study for BQE; Say Goodbye to Tunnel Proposals

We’ve received notice from the New York State Department of Transportation that the environmental impact study for the proposed Brooklyn-Queens Expressway rehabilitation has been terminated.

In these financially difficult times, NYSDOT is making strategic choices to make the best use of our limited resources, balancing core infrastructure preservation with fiscal reality while maintaining the safety and reliability of the transportation system. The alternatives being explored in the environmental study far exceed the financial resources available to us now and for the foreseeable future. Working closely with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), NYSDOT has concluded that terminating the environmental study is the most prudent and responsible course of action, allowing us to focus our resources on the highest and most critical needs.

The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is a critical component of the transportation network for both New York City and New York State. Keeping it safe and reliable is essential to commerce and quality of life. Working with the New York City Department of Transportation, the New York State Department of Transportation will continue to support efforts to ensure that the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway remains a safe and reliable roadway in our transportation system.

According to a notice published in the Federal Register by the Federal Highway Administration:

Proposed future projects will continue necessary State of Good Repair projects to structures, roadways, and appurtenances, to ensure the continued safe operation of this important roadway corridor. With this approach, future plans for the roadway may be addressed in a comprehensive manner as funds become available.

In other words, only those repairs necessary to keep the BQE safe will be done in the forseeable future. Projects like the proposed tunnel are far in the future, if they ever happen.

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  • epc

    I think anything truly innovative with the BQE is dead in the water until the City or State can charge a toll on it (or any new work). The allocation of Highway Trust Funds to NY State is simply too small to cover anything more than basic repairs. And, after the Big Dig imbroglio in Boston, it’s unlikely we’ll see any separate Federal funding for a large scale re-do of the BQE (tunnel, re–route, whatever). The City and State don’t generate enough highway taxes to pay for anything other than repairs, and the current Federal Gas Tax only provides something like $0.40 of every dollar spent from the highway trust fund.

  • Heightsman

    Did anyone really believe in the “tunnel” idea. I didn’t. Government studies should save the money.

  • Cranberry Beret

    No surprise that the tunnel idea is dead, but I thought the impetus for the planning scenarios in the first place was that the cantilever was soon to reach the end of its estimated lifespan and needed to be replaced? How does that jibe with “good repair” projects?

  • bklyn20

    Can’t we put condos in the tunnel and get PILOT payments? Maybe Vanessa and Steven can join the descendants of the Mole People. Here again, their nose-free status will be quite advantageous.

    V & S aside, it’s unfortunate that nothing can be done to quiet the BQE — which would be good for the park, too.

  • resident

    There’s always the west side highway approach. Lose the interstate and there will be less traffic, and a greater push for mass transit. But, since the BQE is officially part of the interstate system and the interstate system is at least nominally a national defense system, the Feds might not be thrilled with that option.

  • Hicks St Guy

    @resident, where would all the trucks go? everything is transported by trucks now, vs. trains as in the past. nyc really blew it when the train tunnel under the harbor was put off.

  • resident

    @Hicks St Guy: I guess there really isn’t another truck route to LI from the south. That would cause a problem.

  • David on Middagh

    These comments are bang on, except for bklyn20’s half-baked proposal to put luxury condos in the BQE tunnel. Clearly, the tunnel isn’t going to happen unless it’s pushed through as part of an expanded sewer system to handle the storm runoff from the Global Climate Change weather disruptions. In which case the the tunnel condos, having a water view, would become viable.

  • epc

    Personally I like the idea of putting the damn thing in a tunnel, but I also think it’s about as realistic as getting congestion pricing or the even more challenging resident parking permits.

    I also think, having lived through urban tunneling in Sydney and Chicago that the process would be far more disruptive to Brooklyn Heights and Downtown than people believe, moreso than whatever ends up happening with the cantilever.

    If the cantilever should be closed or traffic restricted due to reconstruction, some effort should be made by the City/State to reduce truck flow. Unfortunately both are boxed in by the Federal prohibition on tolls on the EB Verrazano and the bizarre belief that commuter traffic and trucking traffic is good, while local residents’ health and sanity is to be ignored.

  • bklyn20

    David on Middagh — my comment was not half-baked, it was not baked at all! I’m sad that a better solution to the BQE’s problems could not be found, so I was trying for some gallows humor.

  • David on Middagh

    Bklyn20: I know. Me too!

  • Elmer Fudd

    Float the temporary BQE detour onto barges in the East River. Like they did repairing the FDR drive.

    Then condo the old road bed, or build a new school there.

    And let the BQE float forever on a series of barges in Stephen and Vanessa’s windows.