Possible BQE Designs Revealed

Mary Frost, in the Eagle reports on yesterday evening’s meeting, in which DOT officials revealed three possible plans for the Central portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which sits below Brooklyn Heights and the Promenade, between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street. Renderings of these plans, dubbed “The Stoop”, “The Terraces”, and “The Lookout”, can be seen in Ms. Frost’s story, linked above. In your correspondent’s estimation, The Stoop appears best because it covers the highway for at least part of its length and limits traffic to two lanes.

Regarding the number of lanes, Ms. Frost quotes Tanvi Pandya, the Department of Transportation’s head engineer for the BQE project, to the effect that the number of lanes in the Central portion may be determined as a result of environmental studies that, among other things, may consider the effect of reducing the Central portion to two lanes on traffic congestion, and accompanying pollution, on portions of the BQE to the north and south. Concerning the lanes issue, City Council Member Lincoln Restler is quoted: “It’s for our climate future; that way we don’t just replicate the status quo of highway infrastructure that has severely hurt and destabilized our communities with terrible air quality and noise issues and vibrations.” Mr. Restler urged “neighbors and stakeholders” to communicate with him because “the DOT must work in partnership with us if they hope to enact any of these proposals.”

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  • SongBirdNYC

    There are virtual and in-person meetings. The next one is tomorrow night, Thursday, December 15th. Sign up so your voice can be heard:

    Also, if you want email updates on the BQE project, sign up HERE:

  • Jorale-man

    Agree with Claude: on first glance, the Stoop seems to minimize the BQE’s presence the most of the three and seems most appealing as a result.

  • A neighbor

    I thought that the only way highway projects could get federal funds is if the road has a shoulder. If so, isn’t that another argument for only 2 lanes each way?

  • TeddyNYC

    “The Stoop” proposal looks interesting. It might be the best one. The “Terraces” proposal looks like it could be a skateboarder’s fantasy come true. It might not be the safest one, especially when you have snow/ice/skateboarders. I don’t like the “Lookout” proposal because who really wants to relax/play in one of those “plazas” right next to the highway.

  • Mike Suko

    I remember hearing that they couldn’t cut any portion to 2 lanes without Federal and/or State approval, since it IS “an interstate.” So, either they got a waiver or the rules are imprecise … or whoever made that pronouncement was mistaken. It certainly HAS gotten Federal money in the past, and it’s only recently that shoulders came to be in the cantilevered section getting the most scrutiny.

    If any of these proposals go beyond drawing-board state – I’m pretty skeptical – YOU KNOW that Furman Street is just about toast, because the savings from going that route would be at least $hundreds of millions!

  • Andrew Porter

    Here’s the comment I posted on The New York Times article about this mess:

    Reinventing the wheel.

    After all the neighborhood discussion, and the opposition to the city’s plans for the replacement of the BQE with a six lane highway, this new administration has thrown out all that previous discussion, disregarded the area’s opposition, and now comes up with plans that are exactly what we don’t want!

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Maybe they can keep discussing this until there’s a new mayor in office—or until the entire cantilever falls down, killing hundreds and affecting thousands.

    Then the blame game will begin in earnest.

  • Effective Presenter

    The BQE is not a priority for Mayor Adams, etc. The cantilever has enough life to last through Eric Adams administration, we hope.

    Residents, homeowners on Columbia Heights face tremendous problems and uncertainty here that do NOT appear a priority for Adams, etc.

  • CHatter

    I attended the meeting on Tuesday and learned a few things in discussion with the design team afterwards that were not apparent (at least to me) on the face of the materials, but I think are very important:

    1. The “lookout” (full replacement) version, in addition to taking far longer and being way more expensive, will require that the Promenade be completely torn out during construction, and eventually rebuilt in different proportions (it would come back, some time in the 2030’s, but much wider). I personally think it’s a non-starter. Who wants to lose the promenade for the better part of a decade?

    2. The “stoop” (which some here seem to like because of the idealized landscaping design elements depicted) being a “side-by-side” configuration of the highway, means that from the Promenade, the view plane will be interrupted looking down. Instead of seeing the park, you’ll see the roof of the highway. And since the roof can only extend in 300-800 feet chunks, many people will see the *actual* highway traffic from the promenade. That all seems like a very bad idea.

    Which means, of the three types depicted, seems to leave only the terraced design, which steps down (similar to the current design, but without relying on the cantilever). I doubt very much that the finished result would look like the variation shown in the Eagle article (there are 5-6 conceptual variations for each model in the deck), but it’s the one that stands the best chance, as far as I can tell, of obscuring the highway from view.

  • Banet

    While I don’t like any of the idea, I think the Stoop isn’t as bad as you think.

    First, looking down toward the park you’d now see the Stoop close by and the Park beyond. I’m not sure it’s really that different seeing the parkland that’s part of the Stoop than parkland that’s part of the berms. You’d still see all the piers and the shoreline.

    Second, where the Stoop doesn’t exist outside those 300 to 800 foot sections, you say people would see the highway. First, they see the highway now as well. Second, the Stoop is missing from those sections for reasons of ventilation. There’s no reason you couldn’t cover those open section with slanted louvers that completely block your view of cars from the Promenade while also allowing massive amounts of airflow — upwards of probably 90% of what you’d have with no louvers.

    If you can’t picture what I mean by louvers, think of a window with venetian blinds. If the blinds are adjusted to be perfectly horizontal then you can see out, but by adjusting the angle slightly your view is obscured.

  • CHatter

    Currently, you have to try pretty hard, peering over the edge in most places, to see the highway. That’s because of the layered and terraced nature of the cantilever and also the fact that the lanes are narrower than they are supposed to be under current required specs. The new highway will be wider by ~4–5 feet or more in both directions, so the side-by-side version would be very substantially more visible, perhaps obscuring the entire park. Both versions would be more visible to be fair (because no cantilever means no layering), but obviously the side-by side moreso. And since there are no guarantees about what goes on top of the roof (they could easily just end up being concrete slabs), stepping the outer lane down is, in my opinion anyway, a little better.

    The design and engineering people were pretty clear on Tuesday night that the open sections would need to be completely open.

  • Just Saying

    Yes, it was apparent from the conversation also that none of the designs took into account any type of filtered ventilation. So it’s the same particles in the air, no matter the design they choose. They said it was due to many disparate excuses. The end result is still polluting our lungs