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.