The cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, below Brooklyn Heights and the Promenade, is in need of critical repairs. Concrete has eroded, exposing rusting metal reinforcements. The job will take years, and will require closure of at least parts of the BQE for long periods. Last year a City Department of Transportation Official told a community meeting that the work could be done without diverting significant amounts of traffic to Brooklyn Heights streets. Still, there may be other disruptions, including closing of portions of the Promenade.
The duration of the project could be shortened, and its onset brought forward, by a technique called “Design/Build” in which joint bids are solicited from designers and construction firms, who must collaborate on their bids and, if successful, proceed on agreed upon terms. When design and construction bids are made and awarded separately, it often results in misunderstandings between designer and builder or repairer, leading to delays and sometimes litigation. Since the BQE repair is under New York State jurisdiction, approval to use Design/Build must come from the State.
Unfortunately, the State Legislature adjourned without approving Design/Build for the BQE. As State Senator Daniel Squadron noted in his newsletter: “The budget failed to allow design-build for the BQE reconstruction, a failure that could add years to this difficult project.”
Despite the failure to get the bill passed during the recent session, the BHA will continue to prominently advocate for this legislation when the legislature reconvenes. The stakes are too high for Brooklyn Heights and the entire borough to not press our case. NYCDOT estimates that design build will shorten the projected 5 year construction period of the BQE Rehabilitation Project, thereby reducing the duration of environmental impacts on the Heights community, and save city taxpayers $113.4 million. These savings can then be used on other critical infrastructure projects in New York City to further improve the quality of our lives.