WSJ: BQE Panel Considering Short Term Repairs; Long Term Re-Design – Report Now Expected January

The Wall Street Journal reports that unidentified members of the panel appointed by Mayor de Blasio have said data from sensors indicates the cantievered section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway under brooklyn Heights is in worse shape than prevously believed. Some panel members have indicated that trucks over a certain weight may have to be banned from this part of the BQE as soon as next year, and that repair work, meant only to stabilize the highway and to allow the city time to design a solution that would not simply replace the cantilever but do something different with the highway, may have to start in 2021. That work would likely entail night and weekend closures, or possibly a full closure for some stretch of time, of the cantilevered section. This raises the question of where traffic will go, both the heavy truck traffic that may be banned next year and all the remaining traffic during times of closure.

The Journal contacted the panel’s chair, Carl Scissura, who would not comment beyond saying that the panel’s report should be published in January. A spokesman for Mayor de Blasio said the Mayor’s office “will review the external panel’s report when it is complete.”

The Journal story also quotes Hilary Jager, co-founder of A Better Way, as saying Brooklyn Heights residents know “that whatever the city decides to do, they will have to suffer through years of heavy construction work.” She added that “it would be worth it if the city sets its sights on a more transformative highway project that is better for residents as well as for drivers.”

As for the feasibility of such a “transformative project”, there’s much in the Journal story about that. Click on the link to read.

In a related story, Mary Frost reports in the Eagle that some neighbors are opposing a proposal to re-zone a block on Old Fulton Street, in the Fulton Ferry area, to allow construction of a high rise building. Their opposition is based, in part, on the possibility that such a building could interfere with city plans to relocate the BQE. The Eagle story notes that the Executive Committee of Brooklyn Community Board 2, voted to accept the recommendation of its Land Use Committee to recommend that the re-zoning application not be approved.

Addendum: Mary Frost has more on reactions to the BQE panel’s leaks, including comments by the presidents of the Brooklyn Heights Association and of the Cobble Hill Association.

Photo: Teresa Genaro

Share this Story:

, , , , , , , ,

  • CassieVonMontague

    I don’t need any sensors. I can feel the BQE shanking my apartment! And it’s been getting worse over the years. I expect the thing to fall down any day now. The “master builder” really did shoddy work.

  • Cranberry Beret

    Here in the north Heights, it seems as if the vibrations come and go in waves (no pun intended) over the years as the city patches various parts of the cantilever.

    But has definitely been worse in the last 6-9 months. At night when trucks go faster, my place rattles and hums (literally: vibrations get my radiators squeaking)

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    Here’s the full article – not that Claude’s summary omits much “of any substance.” In fact, that’s my takeaway – this long-awaited report boils down to saying that any solution will require further study…. Of course, the scary parts will get some headlines, but the city is hamstrung by diBlasio’s 20% approval rating – any “solution” will have lots of vocal critics, so look for 2 more years of mulling things over – with millions of fingers crossed that there aren’t too many windy or stormy days over that span.

  • BrooklynHeightzer

    Guess the trucks will be heading up & down Hicks/Henry streets

  • Jorale-man

    Interesting. This mirrors recent comments here that they’re either going to recommend eliminating the cantilever or reducing it to 4 lanes in the long term.

    Four lanes is still a bad long-term solution by any standard. Waterfront highways are being eliminated/buried in cities around the world now. But as I’ve said elsewhere here, our city government is not exactly a model for visionary urban planning.

  • Cranberry Beret

    I think it would be fairly easy to force trucks to take Furman each way. This will be unhappy news to residents there, but overall affects far fewer people and is probably a faster through route anyway.

  • NeighboorHood

    Why would an old pre-park photo of the waterfront accompany this story? Especially since the BB Park Board’s intransigence and mismanagement is a part of the problem with dealing with the rebuilding/repair? Weird.

  • fultonferryres

    The vote on the 50 Old Fulton rezoning was not unanimous. It was 25-1.

  • TeddyNYC

    Not a viable option at all. Furman Street won’t be much better as an alternative and I guess truck companies/drivers will get that message quick. Trucks going to Queens/LI will need to find another way to get there, via Manhattan or the Bronx.

  • Claude Scales

    Mea culpa. I somehow misread “overwhelmingly” as “unanimously.” I’ve changed the post.

  • Claude Scales

    I’ve substituted a recent Promenade photo by our own Teresa Genaro.

  • Mike Suko

    I think one of the commenters said that she had – at least 2nd or 3rd hand – “seen” the report now all but released.

    More important, for people who let HOPE get a full sentence – the report (as reported) includes this very, very shiny bit:

    “[Panelists said} that a like-for-like
    replacement of the cantilever might not be the best option.”

    OK, I admit that this isn’t quite kissing off traffic on 2 cantilevers – even as a recommendation – but you could certainly read it as indicating that SOME of the panelists would rather see 4-8 BURIED lanes than East-bound-atop-West-outdoors.

    If only Jackie Kennedy lived in the Heights and became a vocal advocate for the BIG plan!

  • Mike Suko

    MAYBE – seriously – because what [the 3 layers] kind of made sense in 1948 … makes a heck of a lot LESS sense in 2020 – especially with Trump fighting to “de-regulate” car mileage/pollution standards.

    Really, that history IS instructive. I happened to walk near the BQE trench 3 blocks South of Atlantic yesterday – the Heights “lucked out!”

    BUT engineers – even honest & capable ones – are not gifted with prophetic skills. WHO KNEW that what was a big truck then would be laughably “un-economic” 40 years later?

    Yes, the Brooklyn Bridge has stood the test of time, but even in 1883, it was NOT nearly as daring as the current BQE configuration when IT first came to be.

    I’m with the skeptics on “Yeah, let’s buy 50 years by re-routing the trucks!” What Uber has done to Manhattan traffic single-handedly (crosstown traffic moving at 5 mph) is “nothing,” compared to sending mega-trucks onto Hicks (ever see someone double-park?) or even Furman. This is much more like the colorful “How do you get 50 lbs of manure into a 25-pound bag?”

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    Guess you haven’t tried the Cross-Bronx Expressway in (?) the last 30 years.

    Manhattan?? (As a “shortcut?”)

    And as with Scott Stringer, you really MUST look at a map. “The Belt” is what you take if you’re heading to Melville, Huntington, etc.

    But you DO point to another glimmer of hope. Our current President & even our Governor might smile at a Heights problem or even a Brooklyn one. But this IS a regional problem AND one where the demands for a genuine solution or even a viable plan will come NOT ONLY from the likes of you and me … but from big and small businesses and the tens of millions who will face higher prices as business “adjust” to dramatically higher distribution costs.

    It’s worth noting that Scott Stringer seriously advocated a plan earlier this year for a trucks-only BQE – and I don’t think he’s yet said, “Never mind.”

  • Andrew Porter

    Here’s an old photo showing the BQE under construction. Note the rebar, anchored to the old cliffside that used to be there. Not very sturdy, IMHO:

  • Arch Stanton

    You obviously know nothing of construction or engineering so why make erroneous comments.
    Also how the tolls on the VNB will affect traffic on the BQE? Answer: it won’t. Only people who don’t drive and are incredibly cheap think tolls reduce traffic.

  • Taq Man

    “Only people who don’t drive and are incredibly cheap think tolls reduce traffic”

    Care to support that with some data?

    So a $12-15 toll on the Brooklyn Bridge would have no impact?

  • Arch Stanton

    My data is gleaned from exhaustive years observing the human condition.
    Impact on what? On people just trying to make a living, going about their personal and business related, driving trips? Yes, it will add a another layer of aggravation and financial stress. On Traffic on the BQE? Not enough to notice.
    BTW, do you own a car?
    Name one philanthropic you did in the last 48hrs?
    Are you a communist sympathizer?
    Do you believe Epstein committed suicide?

  • Jorale-man

    From the WSJ article:
    “But the planned implementation of congestion pricing in Manhattan, in 2021, could shift up to one-third of today’s cantilever traffic to the tolled Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, said Bruce Schaller, a traffic consultant and former city transportation department official.”

    And: “Panelists said they also considered whether a recent push by federal lawmakers in the region to implement two-way tolling on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge could affect traffic demand on the cantilever. Tolls on the bridge currently only apply to eastbound traffic.”

    So it’s clearly a factor. Whether data and evidence can win out over city/state/federal politics in the decision-making remains to be seen.

  • Mike Suko

    I’m basically with you on this, … but please don’t talk about “DATA” with the implication that it’s like “climate change” – proved beyond any shadow of a doubt.

    The naysayers have a point – sometimes demand is “inelastic,” which is an opaque way of saying that tolls or even huge delays do not necessarily change behavior.

    To say that “it should” rests on a belief – CLEARLY unsound – that people behave logically all or even most of the time.

    Some people really have NO GOOD alternatives to the BQE, and a great many more probably won’t try them – having been burned by subway malfunctions too many times.

    And beware of “unintended consequences.” When cars and subways became (over the last 20 years, for sure) either too expensive, too inconvenient or too unreliable, a MASSIVE field came into being – Uber/Lyft/etc. – and I believe that cars-on-NYC-roads-and-streets may actually be at record levels – DESPITE the occasional EVIDENCE that some people could walk faster than they can get there by car.

  • Still Here

    The intersection of Furman and Old Fulton st cannot accommodate trucks over 30′ – Especially northbound.

  • Taq Man

    You obviously know nothing of construction or engineering the effects of tolling on traffic patterns, so why make erroneous comments.

  • Mike Suko

    Do you really not GET IT – at ALL?! We’re talking a $5-10 Billion project (crazy that even the experts probably couldn’t narrow that down all that much.)

    IN THAT CONNECTION, things like a difficult intersection is “de minimis.” If you need evidence, conveniently, Tillary Street from Flatbush to Cadman PW … and plenty that’s up to 100 feet from that stretch has been reworked in the last few months.

    And yes, I’ll admit that there are going to be lots of little challenges that will cost $100MM+ to “remediate,” at least partly because the companies doing the construction always donate in amounts that get them an occasional contract where they make that back – with plenty extra.

    But there will/would be hellish days when one of those trucks “jack knifes.” Plus Furman wasn’t really built for trucks – can 2 pass each other at speed safely? And I’m sure that it will make repairing the lowest rung of the cantilever enormously more expensive because cranes cannot rise from Furman.

    Last, I wonder if Pierhouse could bring an action setting the timetable back a year – or worse. I guess Bloomberg didn’t really know where Brooklyn was – for all his 12 years at the helm.

  • Andrew Porter

    The BHA just posted:

    Brooklyn (and the MTA) got a present on Friday when when a measure pushed by Reps. Max Rose, Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velázquez was signed into law. The $1.4 trillion spending package included a repeal of the split-tolling ban on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, including language to potentially split the span’s current $19, one-way toll into two, $9.50 split-tolls.

    Earlier this year, the MTA issued a report that estimated split tolling could reduce the number of east and westbound vehicles by over 4,000 while generating an additional $10 to $15 million annually to fund local transit projects. Now that’s something worth celebrating!

  • Taq Man


  • Arch Stanton

    Tolling hasn’t shown to significantly reduce traffic in NYC.
    So I obviously know more than you.

  • Arch Stanton

    4,000 cars a day, a laughably insignificant amount, Remember the BQE handles over 150,000 cars a day.

  • Andrew Porter

    If you have a problem with this statement, take it up with the MTA or the BHA. You are a member of the BHA, of course?

  • Arch Stanton

    Given the ubiquity of tolling in the tristate area you’d think there would be historical data to support this claims, but there isn’t.

  • Arch Stanton

    No problem at all, it supports my statement that “increased tolls aren’t a significant factor in reducing traffic”.
    No, I take the Groucho position on club membership.