Scissura to Community Groups: “Very Little Chance” of Promenade Highway

The Brooklyn Heights Association has reported that, in his strongest statement yet on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway reconstruction plans, Carlo Scissura, chair of the panel studying the issue, said the Department of Transportation’s “innovative” proposal to build a temporary six lane highway in the location of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade “has very little chance of being approved.” According to the BHA, he also made it clear that “any temporary alternatives encroaching on Brooklyn Bridge Park would face similar obstacles and would not be approved, thus removing the temporary parallel bypass at the eastern edge of the park – the BHA/Wouters alternative – from consideration.”

The BHA release also includes a link to the BQE Panel Update dated June 27, 2019. The Update includes the following on page 14:

There may be a need for a temporary alternative route during what may be a six to ten-year construction period, but the alternatives proposed by the city Department of Transportation present very serious issues with very little chance of being approved; other alternatives should be explored. The Commission has serious concerns about the proposed highway and encroachment on the Promenade (other than to renovate and upgrade the Promenade) or major incursion into the Brooklyn Bridge Park with a temporary highway.

Keep in mind that the panel’s report, which can be expected “in early fall” of this year (page 20 of the Update), is advisory only; while it should be very influential on the DOT and other interested agencies, there is no assurance that its recommendations will be followed.

Update: The Eagle’s Mary Frost reports on Scissura’s statement, also offering some pertinent quotations. City Council Speaker Corey Johnson told the Eagle, “I look forward to working with the residents of these neighborhoods and others to find a smart 21st-century solution to the BQE problem.” Cobble Hill Association President Amy Breedlove said, “There is an opportunity to make the BQE a connector and not a divider as it has been historically.” Outgoing BHA Executive Director Peter Bray said

From the vantage point of the Brooklyn Heights Association, the tremendous focus brought by the community and the organizational efforts of the Brooklyn Heights Association and A Better Way NYC really paid tremendous dividends….It certainly makes it easier to leave at this point knowing we’re in a much better position than we were a year ago.

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  • Sweeties

    What options are left?
    The cantilever BQE needs to be fixed. It’s no good saying that nothing is likely to be approved.

  • Jorale-man

    The Brooklyn Eagle put together a good “scorecard” on the 7 plans that have been floated so far. I’m not sure how many he’s effectively ruling out here:

    That said, this is tentatively good news, or at least a lot better than his last statements on the matter.

  • Arch Stanton

    The DOT’s “traditional” lane by lane approach and the Trans Brooklyn Tunnel. The latter being superior to all other proposals.

  • Proto Plano

    Why is the Trans Brooklyn Tunnel the most superior if, according to the BE article, “Tunnel portals could impact minority or low-income populations”. It does not sound superior if you are unlucky enough to live in one of the neighborhoods that would be negatively impacted by such a project. It just transmits our pain to others and would still have thousands of cars moving through these feeder roads without regard for noise or environmental pollution. It also does not address how the cantilever would be rehabilitated without major construction taking place at the level of the promenade and BH.

    The Bjarke Ingels BQP plan is so far the most forward thinking and would not require a temporary roadway. It has the most promising DNA for refinement.

  • Arch Stanton

    Indeed, significant use of eminent domain would be required to build the tunnel. However, the proposed tunnel portals would be located in already semi-blighted, commercial, industrial areas; most of the owners of those properties would probably be happy receiving a nice buyout package. The portals could be located/designed to minimize interference to the surrounding areas.

    The tunnel would significantly reduce the traffic on, or possibly eliminate the need for, the cantilever altogether. Meaning the cantilever reconstruction would become much simpler, The Promenade my not have to be replaced at all.

    The BIG/BQP plan may be “forward thinking” (especially if one is on Acid) but kidding aside, it is by far the most unrealistic in terms of feasibility. It could not be built without requiring some sort of temporary roadway or significant reduction in traffic flow, thus creating massive traffic jams. Explain how the entirety of the cantilever south of Joralemon St could be removed and replaced with ground level roadway, while maintaining 3 lanes of traffic in both directions? The plan would also require significant use of eminent domain.

  • Eddyde

    The BQE Panel lineup looks like its missing some important representation, notably from the MTA, the city state and federal DOT’s. In my sense, if they want to really streamline the process and make a sound recommendation, they should have input from every player, especially the major ones.

  • Andrew Porter

    As I pointed out over on the Eagle, the recent decision to reinstate both way tolls on the Verrazzano Bridge should greatly reduce the amount of truck traffic on the BQE.

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    I was away when this came out, so I guess it’s almost “note to self.”

    I cannot believe that the bright group that reads and comments here does not draw a bead on the most crucial outcome – our local streets are going to be 4th of July-like (in the Heights, 2019) for many years to come.

    Yes, I hated and hate the idea of the Promenade generating more harmful particulates than anything one would think might be considered in 2019 America – i.e., the god-awful DOT “imaginative” plan – but this is really death by a million cuts instead.

    Cars backed up literally for hours each day on streets like Clinton and Court will (a) make air quality borderline lethal; and (b) cause accidents and probably fatalities as well. (Nothing against S.I. or Bay Ridge, but ask yourself what frame of mind folks coming from there will be in – at Clinton & Montague – at 9 AM if they started out at 7!)

    WHO took BBP “off the table?” … and why?!

    On the plane, I saw an Elon Musk documentary that included his “vacuum train” proposal. CHICAGO is on board with that, for heaven’s sake … and NY blinking City can’t or won’t do better than to spend billions with the “unintended consequence” of causing deaths via traffic & literally gassing our nabe?!

  • Andrew Porter

    Chicago is all on land (except for the Chicago River): any such tunnel here would have to go under far deeper East River and the harbor. There’s also no underground subway there, and underground is just dirt; here we’ve got lots of bedrock and rock outcroppings.

    Meanwhile, every year sees more electric vehicles entering the traffic stream, less pollution. Diesels are being phased out everywhere.

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    I was just pointing out that “thinking outside the box” … or the dirt or bedrock sure seems incumbent upon us/”the City” in this connection. For Chicago to be innovative (or try to) when NYC *might* opt for lane-by-lane (the LONGER “solution”) just strikes me bassackwards.

    Remember, this IS the Brooklyn Heights Blog, and “a better way” is both a fine and DOABLE goal. Sparing the promenade and having 10+ years of nightmarish traffic on Court, Clinton, Henry, etc. … really is NOT … a better way – unless you are lucky enough to have a Columbia Hts address.

    Again, I truly love BBP, but for BH, Cobble Hill and a handful of other nabes to “feel the pain” … just so the park goes untouched sure strikes me as ill-considered.