Could Infrastructure Funds Mean No More BQE?

As Streetsblog reports, that’s what Carlo Scissura, former head of the Mayor’s panel that considered options for repairing or replacing the crumbling Brooklyn Queens Expressway and that, to the relief of many Brooklyn Heights residents, killed the Department of Transportation’s proposal to repair the cantilevered portion below the Heights while replacing it with a “temporary” six lane highway occupying the site of the Promenade, has now suggested. According to Streetsblog:

“This highway stinks; it’s decrepit, and it has destroyed many communities,” Scissura told business leaders at a Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce breakfast. “I am saying, get rid of it, start from scratch!”

What options might be available? A tunnel has, as we’ve noted here before, serious engineering problems, including the difficulty of providing access for traffic to and from the Brooklyn Bridge. Also, tunnel construction could have serious adverse affects on quality of life in the Heights and other nearby neighborhoods. Another suggestion is to replace it with a boulevard – a surface level multi lane street with traffic lights at intersections, as was done when the elevated West Side Highway in Manhattan was demolished. This raises the question of where such a boulevard could be sited, and the answer to that, wherever it may be, is likely to arouse much community opposition based on pedestrian safety and emissions issues arising from increased traffic.

The question of demolishing the existing cantilevered portion of the BQE also raises questions. From a Heights perspective, how will it affect the Promenade, which is part of the cantilevered structure? Because that structure as a whole is deteriorating, it will be necessary to shore up the Promenade by one means or another. One possibility is to go ahead with repairing the whole cantilevered structure, but to replace the existing roadways with something else, like gardens.

Despite all these issues, I’m glad that the availability of funds for infrastructure has opened the possibility of “rethinking” the BQE.

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  • Andrew Porter

    Pollution from vehicles comes up against the massive move to electric vehicles—not only cars, but trucks. Replacement of diesel-powered vehicles is already under way.

    My cousin, the architect Allen Swerdlowe, addressed the possibility of a tunnel, years ago, in 1997. Here’s a link to the discussion of his solution:

  • Jorale-man

    As far as the promenade is concerned, the plans like the one by Scott Stringer’s office seemed the most forward-thinking. They essentially had the roadway buried under landscaping in the park, forming a hill up to the promenade.

    South of the Heights, they’d cover over the BQE ditch with trees and parkland. North? I don’t know. As someone who occasionally takes the BQE to LGA, I wonder how we’d get there (for example). But it shouldn’t remain in its current state.

  • Mike Suko

    Consider the source…. That is, the man quoted has deep roots in the construction biz…. I doubt that many Heightsers “commute” via the BQE. Jorale-man’s remark is probably more typical by far – “the occasional trip to the airport” … or going somewhere not at all normal (i.e., a vacation), where the first and last small number of miles take the BQE.

    For all that ENORMOUS $ are spent on things “we don’t need” like SpaceX, we’re really in very “constrained times” when it comes to anything govt might do. Low-hanging fruit (and emergencies) near us will/would gobble up ENTIRELY the tiny share of the “transportation money” in the bill that NYC’s VERY AGING infrastructure so badly needs. Covering the trench near the Heights and buying a century of cantilever safety WOULD be great, and that’s my guess as to what WILL (and nothing more) eventuate.

    And – because I think the new Mayor is a grifter – watch how BIG TOWERS go up atop the soon-to-be-covered trench, ones that Cobble Hill’s residents will fight futilely. Ironic – the little slice of Cobble Hill & Carroll Gardens (basically Columbia St. & East-facing-Hicks) that Moses all but severed … will remain that way. (Look, too, for diBlasio to be working behind the scenes to make that happen!)

    In place of the fumes and noise they’ve suffered for 70 years, they’ll now be robbed of half the lumens in their diet.

    Scissura probably KNOWS that’s the way it’ll shake out, and I’m pretty sure he’d call that a “happy ending” for his industry.

  • Mike Suko

    That’s a pretty picture in many ways – the map – but I’ll bet that while your cousin reviled Moses and much of what he accomplished, that tunnel is one of the few things that requires MORE VISION and MORE willingness to disrupt a million lives for years and years than even Moses could summon up. The passage of time – no surprise – makes the project’s prospects go from miniscule to sub-microscopic. Fourth Avenue is now built up; Fifth Avenue is no longer expendable; “Central Brooklyn” has its very own Mayor for the next 4 years. (Just in terms of his “roots.”)

  • CassieVonMontague

    I’ve noticed a lot more semis getting stuck driving through our neighborhood. This Monday afternoon, a big 53′ semi got stuck trying to turn on to Hicks from Montague.

  • KDHicks

    Have noticed this recently, too! Also the huge delivery trucks for Fresh Direct, furniture deliveries and others will just stop in the middle of the road and everyone behind them loses their minds, laying on the horn for sometimes 15 mins or more…can’t blame them on a one-way street, people get completely trapped.

  • Cranberry Beret

    I’m shocked – SHOCKED – to hear about a likely illegal 53’ trailer in our nabe. (They’re not allowed in NYC without a permit and even then restricted to certain through-interstates that are NOT the BQE.)

  • T.K. Small

    The BQE should have been repaired BEFORE Brooklyn Bridge Park was built or completed.

  • Arch Stanton

    Yes and it was argued at the time. However, Bloomberg wanted credit for the park…