Mixed Reactions to DOT’s Community Meeting on BQE

As Mary Frost reports in the Eagle,

Dozens of Brooklyn Heights residents trekked to the New York City College of Technology on a rainy Thursday night to attend the NYC Department of Transportation’s first community engagement meeting for the redesign of the “Central” portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE).

The “Central” portion extends from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street, and includes all of the cantilevered portion of the BQE below Brooklyn Heights, which has been declared structurally hazardous. The meeting opened with presentations by DOT representatives, followed by an opportunity for attendees to view materials prepared by the DOT “arranged” according to the Eagle story, “in a circular ‘science fair’ format.” You can see these materials here.

The Eagle quotes DOT chief strategy officer Julie Bero as saying that “City Hall has launched a multi-agency effort to consider viable alternative routes for freight traffic along the BQE.”

Reaction to the meeting was, in general, at least mildly positive. According to the Eagle story, State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon called it “a good start,” noting that it was “a crummy night and a lot of people came out.” City Council Member Lincoln Restler had some reservations. He told the Eagle, “I struggle to understand the format of the events this evening,” adding that, “I’m worried that DOT is getting off to a start where they are not engaging and listening, because I don’t see any opportunity for direct feedback.” Brooklyn Heights Association President Karen Volk said, “I am trying to remain optimistic, but there are some serious issues.” Willowtown Association President Linda DeRosa told the Eagle she’s “ready for some meat and potatoes.” She expressed concern that the DOT needed to get more information out if they expect to start work on the cantilevered section soon.

Other Heights residents who attended the meeting had varying opinions. Susan Skerritt told the Eagle she thought the meeting was a “good start” and that she thinks DOT is “going to do everything they can to be transparent so that we all have an understanding of what the issues are and what is possible given those issues.” Jennifer Eisenstadt, a member of A Better Way NYC, said she was “greatly disappointed,” noting that the “very glossy posters” presented “information that, as a community, we already know through and through since we have all in this room been so engaged with this project for years.” Science journalist Laurie Garrett, told the Eagle she was “appalled,” adding, “It feels very Mickey Mouse to me, and I assume they will throw away all of it.”

There will be a virtual session on Central BQE plans this coming Tuesday, October 18 starting at 6:30 PM. If you want to participate, please register here.

Share this Story:

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

  • Gail Eisner

    They say that good communications begins with identifying your audience. For all that there WERE some “professionals” in attendance, it’s clear that the DOT *was* aiming at “just plain citizens” with its “science fair approach.” … As it is, NO WORK (if you look at the exhibits via the link Claude provided) is PLANNED (reality will, no doubt, be even worse) ’til 2026 – conveniently, after the next Mayoral election.

    Ms. Frost’s article doesn’t have much meat, obviously, because this was just ticking the “community input” box. It’s clear that Mayor Adams and his team felt that “our mile” had gotten way too much attention from his predecessor. So, the “new approach” is to – at most – slog for a few years through “environmental reviews” and beg DC to commit funds. I don’t know enough about how Build Back Better will work in practice, but the emphasis seems/seemed to be on “shovel ready” projects, and this is the furthest thing from that. Plus, bandaids are a lot less photogenic than NEW stuff, so I come back to thinking that nothing much will happen until/unless there’s a serious incident…. I get, b.t.w., how Mayor Adams is all about “equity,” i.e., making sure that “communities of color” get $ they’ve seldom gotten in the past. Unfortunately, this puts Lincoln Restler at a huge disadvantage on at least 4 counts:

    1) His constituency is a lot whiter and a lot higher income than Mayor Adams’ … “Mayor of ALL the people” are just words!

    2) He’s liberal, with the Mayor being anything but;

    3) The Mayor – sad to say – is already campaigning for 4 more years – regardless of Biden-like approval ratings – and if there IS a decent alternative next election, Restler is likely to back it!

    4) Restler worked for diBlasio. Ms. Frost makes clear in a couple of quotes that Adams:diBlasio :: Trump:Obama. That is, wanna see the Mayor “tune out?” Start a sentence with “But diBlasio …”

    One great quote that Claude did not crib. Said the Pres. of the BHA: “I’m somewhat skeptical about how much real input these workshops can provide because we are not engineers.”

    Last, the talk about alternatives (barges, more than anything else) sure sounds like Adams’ version of BQX. That is, “See, I can do ‘visionary.’ … ‘course, we have to address hot button issues NOW, so mostly, this will keep a few City employees busy creating 1960’s-style HS reports that will go absolutely nowhere.”

  • Andrew Porter

    The city will talk and talk and talk—disregarding all the input and plans proposed in previous years—and then, surprise! it will be time for the next mayor to start the process all over again.

    Unless, of course, there’s a sudden and disastrous collapse, in which case, anything can happen.

    The cliché is: “kicking the can down the road.”

  • Mary Kim

    BHB Terms of Service:

    Posting under more than two usernames repeatedly will lead to your comments automatically being placed into moderation.

  • Effective Presenter

    Nowhere FAST.

  • TeddyNYC

    This may be wishful thinking on my part, but I hope it gets replaced before it’s too late. I also hope they’re good at monitoring it which once again may be wishful thinking on my part.

  • gc

    How about some enforcement of weight and speed limits on the BQE? Get up in the middle of the night near the Promenade and you’ll hear the heavy trucks speeding and bouncing along the BQE. Got to be rough on the road!

  • South Brooklyn Boys

    I asked that question to one of the staff that was there and he said that in Dec there would be some mechanism in place to record weight and issue fines (camera?). Also cops would be monitoring and pulling heavy trucks off. FYI – heavy truck shouldn’t be on city streets either. The person acknowledged that when they pick up speed at night it does some serious damage.

  • CassieVonMontague

    The two lanes has made a difference. When I first moved into the neighborhood, my entire building would shake when an overweight semi hit a loose expansion plate at speed. Since the two lanes, I no longer feel like I live on a minor fault line.