Will the BQE Panel Defer to Another Panel?

The issue of repairing the cantilevered stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway below the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Brooklyn Heights is one that those in authority have, for some years, as the saying goes, “kicked down the road.”  Any solution was bound to raise problems, whether for drivers and truckers who use the BQE, Brooklyn Heights residents, or residents of other neighborhoods who could be affected by diverted traffic.

Politico reports that certain unidentified sources have seen drafts of the report, due to be released this month, by the panel appointed by Mayor de Blasio to study the question of how best to repair the BQE. According to these sources, Politico claims, the report is likely to recommend the appointment of a new panel, one that would include representatives of the federal and state governments. This new panel’s task would be “to both deal with the immediate concerns surrounding the triple-cantilever highway under the Brooklyn Promenade and envision a broader plan for the entire corridor from Staten Island to Queens.”

In the meantime, again according to Politico’s sources, the current panel will recommend measures to reduce traffic flow on the BQE, including reducing its capacity from three lanes in each direction to two, and closing some entrance ramps.

Politico contacted Carlo Scissura (photo), who chairs the Mayor’s panel. He said “the panel will release its report in the coming weeks after meeting with community groups and elected officials,” and added that “nothing has been concluded and nothing is final.”

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  • CassieVonMontague

    This news that they need to get more state and city officials involved, combined with “It’s worse than we thought. We’ll need weight restrictions next year” and the shaking getting worse in nearby buildings has me wondering, am I crazy to think “I wouldn’t want to drive my family on this thing”?

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    24 hours later, I think one can choose between these 2 “theories” – I’m sure there are other possibilities, too:

    a) In that this panel was appointed by the Mayor … and while there are some panels that are headed by/filled by “independent, courageous) people, this one sure doesn’t seem to be such a one –
    Bill or key staffers saw an early version of the report and saw something unpalatable. Still further guess – the panel DID recommend something that the Mayor had a big problem with….

    Hence Panel A calls for Panel B.

    b) “Israeli-style” – There were at least 2 schools of thought, but neither one could pull together a majority … or Carl and/or Bill shied away from an outcome where – leaky as these things are – one of those inherently tempestuous “split decisions” came to light.

    As somebody else commented, all this might be funny if – Cassie has it right – lives weren’t at risk (and this per the panel’s core “finding,” one that arguably may justify the time they spent/wasted.)

    Am I the only one to think of Nero fiddling while Rome burned – or however it goes? Does the next panel say, “We’re REALLY running out of time here, but we’ll need an extra year to weigh alternative solutions?” … Or, the only viable engineering solutions they come up with require Federal approval and will face Court challenges that go so far beyond the “expected life” of the cantilever as to be ridiculous.

    You know that the first serious collapse-type accident will result in a closure of at least “our mile.” Then what?

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7nPOzGeyaw Arch Stanton

    Yes A. and the unpalatable something is the original DOT innovative plan that still has the most points as the best solution:
    Time: with an initial estimate of 6 years it’s the quickest solution.
    Cost: the lowest estimated cost.
    Feasibility: All major technical hurdles have been ascertained and reasoned.
    Lowest impact on traffic and surrounding areas: Maintains current traffic flow.
    Longevity: the structure would las a minimum of 100 years.
    Offers Improvement to BB access and wider promenade.
    Yes it sucks the most for the residents on the West Side of Columbia Heights.
    However, they were told not to recommend that plan or the tunnel and find a better way… and they can’t.

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    Long-time readers of this blog (and ones with exceptional memories) may know that we (Arch & I) disagree strongly – and we each are very sure we are right. So be it.

    I’ll say respectfully and dispassionately that while cost matters – a lot – both in terms of what’s available and what’s “tolerable” – nobody doubts that we’re staring at $5 or $10 Billion, and getting something like “good value” for that is imperative – and not just, “This should probably last 50 years.”

    Because – they “cheaped out” in Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill and we’ve come to realize that those 2 communities “got the shaft” when the BQE was built. And while they were somehow forced to “spare” the Heights during construction, that “innovative” design has not aged well. I’ve seen aqueducts in Italy that probably were better built 2000 years ago.

    NYC has had 10 VERY good years (financially) – and a couple of hundred others since its founding. The High Line is “nice,” but fixing the BQE “correctly” borders on “the only way!” Not “A better way,” nice though that would be.

    And the right way, i.m.h.o. is to put that mile or so underground. The BIG proposal from last spring was nowhere stronger than in its laying out of the construction “phases.”

    This seemingly failed panel focused on “what should the end product look like?” and they couldn’t even agree on that. How to get there without jeopardizing the City’s & State’s credit rating is equally important. Both of the DOT proposals were fatally flawed.

    We need to get this right … almost like the U.S. needed to win WW II. Only tunneling offers real hope to meet that easy-to-state-and-understand goal!

  • A Neighbor

    A major concern of the panel has been traffic mitigation – it’s unconscionable to have over 100,000 passenger cars a day, many with a single passenger, chugging along the span. Hence the discussion about reducing the roadway from 3 lanes to 2. This clearly has to be coordinated with traffic mitigation on roadways and bridges leading to the span. Accordingly, I would think there is an obvious need to have input from state and local officials on how that is best accomplished.

  • http://www.cognation.net/ deancollins

    And how does cutting 3 lanes down to 2 solve this problem?

    Cars still need to get Point A to Point B !

    Do the big dig tunnel and do it right, turn the existing structure into garages/parking to offset costs !

    Its simple really.

  • A Neighbor

    They’re two different issues, both of which need to be addressed. Re traffic mitigation, there is no reason for commuters from Long Island and Staten Island to be driving their cars into the city. As cities who care about such things, like London, have demonstrated – if you charge hefty fees and make driving less convenient, people somehow manage to get out of their cars and take public transportation. It is simple, really.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7nPOzGeyaw Arch Stanton

    Well I think we have agreed on a few things, “DumBlasio” for one :)
    Anyway, to clarify my position (for the umpteenth time) I am not advocating for the “Innovative” plan I am merely saying from the perspective of the city as a whole, it’s probably the best so far. I am ultimately in favor of the tunnel from Williamsburg to Sunset Park. When you say underground, are you referring ing to that tunnel or the unrealistic BIG proposal?

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    This borders on pointless, so in love with your voice are you. The Wmsburg-SP tunnel is the one that is – beyond any shadow of a doubt – UNrealistic.

    So, yes, I favor the viable one – expanding BBP – where your most strident (but unbelievably lame) argument has always been – “but what about the sewage pipes running down Montague Street?” (You must not have set foot in Manhattan for all of the 10+ years they’ve been tinkering with the big water-from-the-Catskills project.)

    The “spaghetti” re the BQE project is ABOVE GROUND. At least when this stretch was built, DOT et al had free rein. Now there’s Pierhouse and plenty of well-heeled and well-connected (AND DECENT!) residents and thousands and thousands of cars and trucks that have to get either through or around the Heights every day.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7nPOzGeyaw Arch Stanton

    Unlike you I have facts to back up what I say. https://9670f26306f0aa722eb1-bf8a0720b767c6949515361a19a9737f.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/uploads/document/document/86/Appendix_B_Tunnel_Feasibility_Study__NYCDOT__2016.pdf
    I never said “sewage pipes running down Montague Street” were an issue?

    It is clear you are profoundly, technically ignorant. You have never proposed any plausible solutions (or any) to the several, serious technical issues, I outlined here in the past, that defeat the BIG proposal. Sure, it would be great if it was reasonably feasible to build, unfortunately its not.
    However the tunnel, as outlined in the study above, is feasible. If built the tunnel would allow the BIG concept to be easily built, without the need for the highway portion at all. I honestly don’t understand how that’s so hard to understand? Or do you just like being a blowhard?

  • Knight

    FYI: Staten Islanders are part of NYC, too. Some of the folks you mention literally NEED to take cars … folks whose handicaps (claustrophobia, other paranoia) are not documented or recognized by City authorities. Why should they have to pay hefty premiums to access other parts of their own State?

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    It’s funny. I don’t even have a driver’s license, but I 100% agree with you. (Well, 90%, because I think too many give not ENOUGH thought to alternatives to driving – increasingly as “anti-social” as not cleaning up after one’s pet used to be.) … To me, it’s a lot like people hooked on opiates – another rough example, I admit. Many of them got hooked because the FDA was asleep or worse. Now Govt genuinely owes them. Similarly, Govt policies from 1945-1990, say, induced people to move to places like S.I. … Commuter buses (and the LIRR) work for many, but NOT ALL. And it’s both odious & unthinkable to try to make driving cost prohibitive. Reducing the # of lanes is tempting, but remember how high the stakes are when you bet that “then people won’t drive into Bklyn or Manhattan!” If even half the traffic goes on local streets, the original “promenade proposal” is going to get belated sympathy.

  • B.

    Why does the cantilevered section have to be cantilevered? Support the structure with pillars, fix the roads lane by lane, and from across the river it’ll look like a stoa. You’d even be able to widen the top to accommodate bike lanes.

  • A Neighbor

    Do you think that’s even 10% – 15,000 cars a day?

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7nPOzGeyaw Arch Stanton

    It doesn’t have to be cantilevered. However, the existing structure is only constructed of reinforced concrete, without any structural steel beams. Adding to and repair of such a structure is tricky and time-consuming. Lane by lane will require partial and total shutdowns creating massive traffic jams within and outside the neighborhood. For 8-10 years.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7nPOzGeyaw Arch Stanton

    I totally agree. A Cross Brooklyn Tunnel is far and away the best plan.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7nPOzGeyaw Arch Stanton

    I have friends in SI that drive into work every day because even with the traffic, their commute is half the time of public transit.