City officials hate him! Discover one weird trick Gov. Cuomo is using to avoid paying for BQE fix

The elevated Brooklyn–Queens Expressway stack desperately needs repair.
The Brooklyn Paper / Evan Gardner

The decaying Brooklyn Heights portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is too crummy to qualify for state funds, city officials say.

Gov. Cuomo is using a byzantine rule that leaves him off the hook for fixing highways that don’t meet specific standards to avoid paying his share of the crumbling Promenade’s $1.7-billion reconstruction — forcing the city and Feds to clean up a mess Albany created in the first place, the city Department of Transportation’s head honcho told residents at a community meeting on Wednesday night.

“It’s a horrible, crappy roadway, I wish it had never been built, I wish we had never inherited it, frankly, and I wish the state when they started the project they had stuck with it,” said Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Unfortunately my wishes have not come true.”

Albany only has to cough up money to fix a highway if it meets specific federal standards that include 12-foot lanes, a 3-foot shoulder on one side, and a 10-foot shoulder on the other. But the so-called triple cantilever bridge only has 11-foot lanes with no shoulders, city officials said.

Still, the state traditionally kicks in around a third of the cash for highway projects — and was even planning to do so for the cantilever back in years ago, before abruptly pulling its contribution along with the Feds in 2011, deeming the whole thing too costly.

Now the U.S. government is back on board — though won’t say exactly how much it is pitching in — and locals say Cuomo should do the right thing and join in.

“I think this is an absolute outrage, I feel like this really should be a state project,” said Boerum Hill resident Bill Harris. “We were dumped by the state, they picked up their tents and left in the middle of the night.”

There is another way the state can contribute — by approving legislation to allow a faster construction method called “design-build,” so a single contractor can both plan and execute the project.

Lawmakers did not pass the bill by the end of this year’s session, but Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D–Brooklyn Heights) said she and state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Brooklyn Heights) will continue to push it next year.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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