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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  • Local_Montague_Man

    He emailed me back. The BHA has not endorsed any plan. He said there has not been enough time to complete due diligence. Seems like a reasonable response to me. I dont know what is going on and I thought it best to just delete the post and wait to say anything else until after Thursday’s meeting

  • gc

    Peter Bray and the DOT need to begin thinking of this idiotic plan as also … “not a feasible plan for many reasons.” This is not happening.

  • Greg

    “It’s not just about commuters, it’s about commerce, the BQE is a vital part of the north-east trucking corridor (where do you think your food come from?). Slowing it down will cost business billons of dollars over the duration of construction.”

    This is myopic thinking. It’s precisely this kind of hand wavy “vital corridor / industry / billions of dollars lost” rhetoric that doesn’t stand up to serious scrutiny that creates unnecessarily disastrous infrastructure plans.

    All the concerns you mention are valid. But it is by *no means* obvious how they’re affected by the various plans and the DOT presentations (so far) don’t come close to providing practical insight into the matter.

    This, more than anywhere, is where we could use some credible, thorough studies to estimate *actual* (not “sky is falling”) predicted impact and proceed accordingly. The “sky is falling” approach is historically not born out by reality.

  • Greg

    Thank you for your patient and non-confrontational approach toward this discussion, Banet.

    We’re all facing a difficult situation and I can understand that causes stress. It’s unhelpful for members of this community to stage character attacks on each other as we all try to wade through a complicated mess and find consensus from our various backgrounds, experiences, and personal stakes in the matter.

    Thank you to you and all others who are not trying to be divisive as we navigate this.

  • Banet

    You’re welcome. :-)

  • Local_Montague_Man

    Arch – please cut out the patronizing “hon”, we dont need that here. Also what “science” are you referencing? If you have something to add please do so link or short explanation would be great. And if you are going to say “its not my job to educate other posters”, I would ask what is the point of your posts?

  • Still Here

    The dog run and Chapin park would be gone in the innovative plan. they would provide the ramp from the BQE to the six-lane highway, so they say.

  • Cranberry Beret


    Chapin is going to close in any scenario. About half the playground, and the entire intersection at/around Columbia Heights & Middagh, are all built on one of the bridges to be replaced in the project zone.

    I guess people in the North Heights won’t have to worry about the foot traffic on Middagh heading to BBP :/

  • Cranberry Beret

    Would love to see stats on this. (From DOT, I don’t mean from you.) My house and my office are equal distances from the BQE…house in the Heights with the highway below, office in Dumbo with the highway above. My office windowsills are FAR dirtier than house. This is completely anecdotal and there could be lots of variables explaining the difference. My point is, you’re not even offering anecdotal evidence to back up your assertion that pollution is a non-issue. It doesn’t seem a stretch to think this bears study. Luckily, the law requires an Environmental Impact Statement, so we’ll get some facts eventually.

  • Livingston
  • ABG

    We will be strongest if we align our movements and speak as one voice. Today’s meeting will not be the last. Anyone interested in organizing, please meet us in the last row of the auditorium when the doors open at 177 Myrtle at 5:30!

  • judifrancis

    Many of you fought for housing inside Brooklyn Bridge Park despite others of us pointing out the folly of building this housing in the first place, and putting it in the park before fixing the BQE. We knew this would be a problem so we strongly recommended (along with Mr. Palimieri who headed Bklyn DOT at the time in 2005 DEIS testimony), that we fix the BQE first and use the funds the federal government would give us from the disruption of this massive road fix (see Brian Ketchum’s report on this circa 2006), to build and maintain the park (without ever any need of housing). A win, win. No, the very people who now decry this plan are the very same people who insisted on housing in the park, and that it be built “as soon as possible”. Well, while we told you so, it is hard to fathom that this would be the outcome even from the most cynical of us.

  • judifrancis

    All, Roy Sloane’s tunnel plan, promulgated and expanded upon by Brian Ketchum and Bill Harris among others, would completely solve the problems here. The 4th ave tunnel is for through traffic – truck traffic which the state told us 6 years ago was over 1/2 of all the traffic on this stretch of highway. Toll the tunnel to pay for it and then downgrade the BQE “dog leg” triple cantilevered roadbed, to cars only. And repair it incrementally with little to no disruptions. The tunnel will improve transportation issues for the long haul, too, where just fixing the BQE provides absolutely no transportation improvements for the long term – no additional throughput. Very bad planning if a tunnel is not part of this plan.

  • Eddyde

    Spot on, I’ll add, Bloomberg wanted credit for the park so it had to proceed before he left office.

  • judifrancis

    No it can be two lanes (i.e, given boring machinery) but it’s main beauty is for trucks going directly over the Verrazano. A tunnel will greatly improve the livability of neighborhoods by relieving the BQE dog leg of trucks (make the dog leg into a parkway not a highway), provide additional throughput for traffic (much needed), and will help make 4th ave a living street. All good and a major transportation improvement for the long haul (and also enable us to fix the BQE incrementally without this draconian suggestion of putting a highway on the promenade

  • Dr. Odlin

    LOCATION CHANGE of tonight’s meeting:

  • judifrancis

    No one costed it out at the time it was proposed (2009-10). When the State was running this project – an entity that was actually skilled at this – Peter King suggested it was very feasible, particularly with the Obama administration’s infrastructure plan . It could have been shovel ready at the time, too. Now, who knows.

  • judifrancis

    Indeed. Roy’s tunnel proposal actually improves transportation overall. And helps make 4th ave into a living street.

  • judifrancis

    It is not only the playground but ALL the play areas along this stretch will be gone: Willowtown’s park, the lower Van Voorhes park along with the four in BH – Squibb, Pierrepont, Hillside and Chappin parks. Again, issues we raised in the BBP DEIS in 2005. The BB Park Defense Fund advocated for the BQE fix before BBP was built. And we noted that the funds from the road bed fix (per Brian Ketchum and Carolyn Konheim’s report) could have been used to maintain the park….yes, without any housing whatsoever.

  • judifrancis

    yeah but ruined many other neighborhoods in the process…

  • Clara West

    The press briefing draft (17 pgs.) doesn’t even mention this as a viable alternative.
    Save The View, defeated, Heights Library, defeated, Pier 6, defeated.
    So far City Govt. not interested in the voices of the local public despite these sham meetings.
    Good to hear your voice again on these issues.

  • BKJB

    Here is a petition about the issue:


    +1 Banet – I hope you go to the hearing tonight and are able to provide such a rational argument.

  • Banet

    Sadly I have other plans. Had there been more notice maybe I could have changed them. I expect the room will be bursting and more than enough questions will be asked.

  • redlola

    thank you. he is perpetually snarky and condescending

  • Herman on Henry

    I haven’t seen this many comments on a topic since someone referred to Court Street as the ghetto many years ago.

  • Eddyde

    Peter Bray is either ignorant or lying. here is a link to a 2016 tunnel feasibility study, done by the DOT, It shows 2 feasible tunnel designs.

  • judifrancis

    Thank you, Clara, but until our elected officials actually DO THEIR JOBS and represent their constituents, it doesn’t matter what thoughtful, creative and knowledgeable experts and other engaged citizens think or request. Our politicians are pathetic…they can’t find solutions using the park as the base for this traffic despite knowing for over 30 years this roadbed must be repaired? The BBP public authority is Robert Moses on steroids. We should be scared, very scared, of these kinds of bureaucratic overreaches and the lack – complete lack – of rational thinking, planning and creativity. Silencing the voices of those who do know and can do something about it is absolutely stupefying. But this is the world we live in, even in the so-called progressive NYC .

  • Cranberry Beret

    Were you at the meeting? DOT engineers were emphatic that they believe a tunnel isn’t feasible. (There is only 1 possible route given all the other existing MTA & DEP tunnel infrastructure in downtown Brooklyn, and it would involve a significant amount of eminent domain at many points along the route.) Yes, they did a study. The results are: they’re not building a tunnel. Peter Bray is just the messenger…

  • Clara West

    Hope you either attended or streamed this public relations excuse for a “voice or the people” forum? When it was mentioned to put that lane through the park a massive cheer erupted from the audience.
    And Polly, poor Polly, as standin for DeBlasio found an audience not accepting of this only two options scenario.
    After boondoggle with the “View” we now know that BBP will always be given preference over the residents of this community.
    Time for BBP to share the pain!