The BQE and Surfside: an Inevitable and Necessary Comparison

Local activists Hilary Jager, Brooklyn Heights Association President Erika Belsey Worth, and Josh Vogel, all of whom are founding members of the Coalition for the BQE Transformation, have written an editorial published in the New York Daily News that notes the similarities between the conditions believed to have led to the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida and those found to be endangering the cantilevered section of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway below Brooklyn Heights:

The conditions described in the Champlain Towers collapse, including spalling concrete, salt and water infiltration, and exposed reinforcing bars, are frighteningly reminiscent of recent engineering assessments of the BQE.

In conclusion, the group writes:

To date, the city’s DOT has focused on low-tech monitoring and Band-Aid repairs on some of the most troubling conditions. This past year was a missed opportunity to implement substantial repairs while traffic was at an all-time low. We urge the mayor to take bold measures: limit traffic on the cantilever with lane reductions and close the road to trucks altogether, if necessary, while a longer-term plan is developed. We urge the governor and the state to come to work collaboratively with the city and the impacted communities to finally fix the BQE.

As you may recall, there was a promise that there would be a comprehensive BQE plan released in June. June is now long gone.

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  • Jorale-man

    I haven’t heard anything from Eric Adams about this but it’s clearly going to be his problem going forward. He didn’t exactly run on improving the city’s infrastructure. Hopefully he’ll see the urgency when he takes office next year.

  • Andrew Porter

    The BQE is one aspect of a complex chain of problems. Tolls on the Verrazano Bridge result in trucks taking the BQE north to cross eventually to NJ without paying tolls. This means a tremendous increase in wear on the BQE, shortening its lifespan.

    No one knows when this will cause total failure, so the sooner the BQE cantilever is fixed, the better for all involved.

    But Covid and govt failure to act faster—and the DOT plan to put a temporary roadway where the Promenade is—have just made everything worse.

    Here’s one of those photos of the BQE under construction, showing the rebar that’s likely way past its structural lifetime:

  • disqus_NCsPYOIlUl

    There’s still an election coming up. Good time to raise the issue.

  • Arch Stanton

    “trucks taking the BQE north to cross eventually to NJ without paying tolls” You obviously don’t have a clue as to what you are talking about.
    The trucks traveling “north” on the BQE are coming from the Verrazano Bridge having paid a toll on the Goethals Bridge, there is no avoiding tolls.

  • Andrew Porter


    Which explains why so many trucks use the BQE.

    By the way, insulting people you don’t agree with is a good way to piss them off, doncha know?

  • Arch Stanton

    That article is dated, false and also clueless. It is impossible or at least completely impractical for a truck to avoid paying a toll through NYC unless it is traveling south or west from New England and going over the GWB to NJ. If you have some secret toll free routes I’d love to hear about them?

  • Nomcebo Manzini

    Can’t blame good people – the community activists – from trying to use something with SOME commonalities to the BQE situation to refocus attention on what is still the biggest issue clouding our community’s future.

    I refer not to a serious incident, the likelihood of which, we should admit, is pretty much unknowable. Rather, the remediation is most likely to disrupt for close to a decade, even if the more visionary proposals are deemed too costly…. I’m glad I didn’t have a weekend job between 2010 & 2020 – or live in Williamsburg. SURELY, the DOT will (they pretty much HAVE TO) try to do all the work on Saturday and Sunday, and – together with much time wasted “setting up” and “staging,” it WILL BE 10 years.

    Unless there’s a torrent of Federal infrastructure money heading NY’s way – and even then – I fear that “the City” will do exactly what the condo association did down there – look at tons of certain pain and expense if they tackle it … and opt for anything but! I know that the West Side Highway – now THERE’S a solid gold “comparable!” – had some cave-in before the shovels and earth movers arrived on that site.

    Obviously, Adams’ priorities lie elsewhere, and a “more left-leaning City Council” (along with like-minded Brad) is probably going to introduce pro-green and anti-car rhetoric that will forestall any good solution until emergency time.

  • Ernie Lendler

    Perhaps some truck drivers using the NJ Turnpike would rather save money in Turnpike tolls by using Exit 13, paying the Goethals Bridge toll, driving across Staten Island not paying a Verrazano Bridge toll then going to the Turnpike end (Exit 18) and paying the George Washington Bridge toll.

  • MaggieO

    the tolling issue identified in that article was addressed last year when 2-way tolls were reinstated on the bridge. more importantly, everyone knows you don’t go North or South on the BQE. You go East or West only. ;)

  • Arch Stanton

    If trucks are headed north and east most would come over the Verrazano (Tolled both ways now) as it is shorter distance and prolly about the same or more cost since you also have to pay on the Triborough/RFK Bridge.

    Andrew Porter claimed trucks were coming from NJ through Staten Island then making their way back to NJ, which of course is utterly ridiculous.

    Truckers are concerned more about time and distance than a few dollars in tolls. Even most car owners aren’t going to go much out of their way to avoid a toll. Only non drivers imagine these scenarios.

  • Andrew Porter

    I did not say “trucks were coming from NJ through Staten Island then making their way back to NJ”.

    Please do not put words in my mouth, You can read what I said in my post.

  • Arch Stanton

    I didn’t put words in your mouth. You said:
    “Tolls on the Verrazano Bridge result in trucks taking the BQE north to cross eventually to NJ without paying tolls”.
    Then where would the trucks be coming from? If they are traveling “north” (actually east) on the BQE they can only be coming from the Verrazano bridge which means they are coming from NJ, as that many trucks are not originating from Staten Island.
    Please illustrate these toll free truck routes through NYC, that you speak of?