BQE Rehab: Promenading No More?

New buildings, endless construction, and the opening of Brooklyn Bridge Park have led many Brooklyn Heights residents to wring their hands and gnash their teeth about “progress” in the neighborhood.

They ain’t seen nothing yet.

Scrolling through my Twitter timeline yesterday, I came across this horrifying news:

The city may have to shutter the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for 6 years during construction of the BQE, according to @NYC_DOT project manager Tanvi Pandya.

— Julianne Cuba (@Julcuba) September 20, 2018

Say it ain’t so, Julianne.

But she does, in her story for Brooklyn Paper

As city transit officials continue planning for the wildly disruptive and long overdue repairs on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, they informed reporters yesterday that a “temporary elevated” roadway, level with the Promenade, may be constructed so that work can be done on the expressway underneath.

To make way for the cars, workers would also have to lay down enough blacktop to make a six-lane roadway — something that could take a year and a half to pull off, thus closing the park to the public well before cars make it their home.

Traffic would then shift from the current roadway to the temporary one while workers build the new tiered, cantilever structure, before bringing it back down to the rehabbed BQE, according to [DOT engineer Tavi] Pandya.

The plan would close the Promenade for up to six years.

Other options include diverting traffic through the neighborhood or rehabbing the BQE lane-by-lane, extending the project’s completion date to 2029.

Politico‘s story asserts that diverting traffic into the neighborhood could result in 12,000 more cars on local roads every day, something that BHA’s Peter Bray seems to consider a non-starter.

“I think putting tens of thousands, in excess of 100,000 vehicles, in local streets in Brooklyn is simply not a feasible alternative,” Peter Bray, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, told The Post.

“We need emergency responders to have access to our community. We need to keep our businesses functioning . . . this is a very difficult trade-off that the community is going to have to make in some fashion.”

The Post also includes commentary from an unnamed local:

“It would be a huge detriment to the neighborhood and it would devalue all of our property,” huffed one woman who lives at Columbia Heights and Pineapple Street but refused to give her name.

Construction is slated to begin in 2020 or 2021.

Have an opinion? The DOT is holding a public project update meeting on Thursday, September 27 at the National Grid Auditorium at 1 MetroTech Center, second floor. Doors open at 5:30 pm; a presentation and Q&A is scheduled from 6:30 – 8:30.


Cuba’s Brooklyn Paper story is, as usual, rich with puns and information; Politico and the Post also offer details about the plans. Click to support local reporting!




Photo: Teresa Genaro

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  • ABG

    So since we can’t have a well-reasoned counterproposal or established PR campaign by Thursday, let’s issue a challenge and have a rallying cry: SHARE THE PAIN, LANE BY LANE.

    And let’s tell everyone we meet on the street, live next to, ride the elevator with and do business with about the meeting on Thursday and the website so they can demand something better if they can’t attend on Thursday.

  • Local_Montague_Man

    Mr. Bray,

    I am sure you are receiving a plethora of emails and phone calls in regard to the six-lane highway which is currently slated to replace the promenade, and I am just as confident the BHA has completed all necessary diligence in regard to the health impact on Brooklyn Heights residents. It is in situations such a this the BHA should be most appreciated.

    Notwithstanding the foregoing, exhaust from the thousands of vehicles a day seems like a health concern. I am not expecting the BHA to understand the science behind ultrafine particulates produced by gasoline and diesel engines, but it does not take a environmental health studies geek to understand the link between highway emissions and the functional effectiveness of the human lung. I do not profess to know the intricacies of diesel exhaust, but I do know I would never take a 3 year old’s lung, pump it full of that concoction, and expect everything to be OK.

    What has made you comfortable with the future environment you have endorsed for the residents of the Heights? It would be fantastic if you would be able to share the diligence completed so other Brooklyn Heights residence can be as comfortable with your decision as the BHA.

    Thank you for your time and commitment to the neighborhood

  • Henry

    I don’t see how the pool can go forward with the BQE project looming. The location wouldn’t work until the BQE is complete. So the previous poster is right to assume it’ll be 2030! They should have left them he pop up pool for now.

  • gc

    If I am reading Peter Bray’s reported comments, supporting this absurd proposal, correctly, I would suggest he step down as executive director of the BHA and that they find someone with enough backbone to stand up against this plan.

  • A Neighbor

    Yes, diverting the traffic makes so much sense. Close the BQE from the Atlantic to Adams St exits. Traffic exits onto Atlantic, turns on to Adams, and from there, to the bridge or BQE. Cars on Atlantic and Adams CANNOT exit on to local side streets. Put a few steel overhead pedestrian walkways over Atlantic and Adams. Done.

    Alleviate traffic further? Make commercial traffic exit before Atlantic. And put (EZ Pass) tolls on the bridges for LI and Queens folks who choose not to use public transportation.

  • No 6-Lane Highway

    Right? This can’t be the position of a group representing our neighborhood. If we all need to join to vote to kick these people out, it would be worthwhile.

  • whatup

    I saw the original comment here. It was a polite letter to the head of the BHA. Why deleted?

  • PierrepontMan

    Not to be bossy, but could someone from this blog make a post alerting people to the Thursday meeting, with all relevant information displayed prominently? This is the most important issue that will face this neighborhood in our lifetimes. We need to organize.

  • Arch Stanton

    I guess you missed part that your pan would put over a hundred thousand vehicles a day onto Brooklyn streets.

  • Jorale-man

    Agreed. I don’t mean to pile on but the blog really needs to step up its coverage. Brooklyn Heights as we know it could become an entirely different neighborhood as a result of what happens in the coming months. It will make the Park’s development look like child’s play by comparison.

  • A Neighbor

    Not really. The idea is that DOT treat the Atlantic/Adams axis like the BQE – 3 lanes each way, no access to or from local roads.

    Moreover, the present traffic volume could be reduced substantially with restrictions on commercial traffic and commuters.

    The tunnel sounds nice, longer term – but the BQE will have fallen down by the time it’s in place.

  • A Neighbor

    The BHA sent out an announcement today. Check their website.

  • redlola

    i am literally ready to lie on the middle of the promenade and would ask you to consider joining me

  • Still Here

    Agree -its worth the two extra years.

  • ABG

    I agree. I love the BHA’s history but its days of vigor have passed and its stance is misguided. How ironic that the website lead page says “A History of Activism” over a picture showing two people walking on to the Promenade. While I do not believe the DOT has bad intent, BHA’s endorsement of the plan may well prove the final act to complete what Robert Moses started.

  • ABG

    The BHA needs to hear from all of us tomorrow.

  • TeddyNYC

    I have to assume your plan includes a lot of federal money for relocating residents on Atlantic Ave and possibly adjoining streets. I also have to assume that the federal government will provide compensation for property owners and business owners for their significant losses/hardships in your plan.

  • Arch Stanton

    LOL, That is the most ridiculous suggestion yet.

  • gc

    Put it together and I’ll be right there next to you.

  • Cranberry Beret

    I don’t believe the BHA (or anyone else) has endorsed any plan. (Quick press reports notwithstanding.) The city only first floated the idea last Thursday. I don’t think anyone knows any details…maybe Thursday’s meeting will bring a little more clarity.

  • Teresa

    We all have full-time jobs in addition to posting here (without payment, as labor of love and service and honor to Homer). Nor do we use the blog as a platform for personal advocacy. What further “coverage” would you like?

  • Andrew Porter

    I have just forwarded a link to this post and the comments to everyone whose e-mail I have in Brooklyn Heights, and to other news blogs, etc.

  • Andrew Porter

    This is NOT correct. I just spoke with the BHA, and they have not had time—calling a board meeting, etc.—to formulate any position at all on this as of yet.

  • Andrew Porter

    Alleged comments, you mean. See my reply to Banet.

  • Andrew Porter

    A rush to judgement based on conjecture and rumor.

  • Andrew Porter

    The post about the meeting is here:

    Note there is no BHA endorsement of any action.

  • Andrew Porter

    A rush to judgement based on a rumor. Get the torches and pitchforks!

  • ABG

    I can confirm as well. BHA has NOT endorsed anything and remains open-minded. I had reached that erroneous conclusion based on an article suggesting that they had viewed the 6-lane highway as the lesser of two evils. See quote in the attached:

  • Banet

    I’ve emailed the BHA as well asking for clarification on their position. I expect they don’t have one yet as how could they? This is a complicated issue and it was just sprung on all of us. That said, Peter Bray, the Executive Director of the BHA, did go on the record *sounding* as if he endorsed this plan as the least bad option. That wasn’t too smart of him. :-/

  • gc

    In the quote from Politico that starts this thread he describes diverting the traffic as “not a feasible solution”. For my money he needs to say the same about paving over the Promenade with 6 lanes of the BQE for what will probably be a decade. Short of that he needs to go. Equivocating on this will insure that it happens.