Downtown residents to streetcar honchos: We have enough transit already, thanks

Oh, Jay there: This publicity image envisages a streetcar on Jay street Downtown.
Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector

They’re not on board.

Downtown-area residents neither want nor need Mayor DeBlasio’s streetcar running along their already transit-rich roads, they told city officials at a Community Board 2 Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday night, slamming the entire Sunset Park-to-Queens trolley as a waste of $2.5 billion that could go much further on less-flashy transit in far needier areas.

“I think it’s an outrageous waste of money and it should be going to other modes of transportation,” said committee member Bill Harris.

Streetcar honchos revealed potential routes for the Brooklyn-Queens Connector earlier this month, and are now visiting community boards for feedback.

In Community Board 2’s district, they want to direct it out of Cobble Hill Downtown-bound along Atlantic Avenue, then onto Court Street. From there, it will either run through Downtown along Willoughby or Tillary streets, or continue along Cadman Plaza East to Dumbo, where it will run along Front and York streets to Gold Street.

But locals said directing the streetcar away from the river and into a neighborhood that’s already lousy with subway and bus stops defeated DeBlasio’s stated purpose of the project, which is to connect transit-starved waterfront neighborhoods and job hubs.

“When you’re getting to subway connections, you’re going away from the waterfront,” said committee member Jon Quinn. “Aren’t you losing the whole concept, which is to serve the underserved communities?”

The streetcar spokespeople countered that they’d lose a large swathe of travelers by only sticking to along the shoreline. Downtown routes will also connect people to more subway stops — something many residents demanded during previous meetings — said project chief Adam Giambrone.

Several residents said they’d rather see the trolley run along Furman Street by Brooklyn Bridge Park, but a Department of Transportation honcho told the community earlier this month that he ordered the streetcar builders to stay away from the stretch, because would interfere with the long-awaited Brooklyn-Queens Expressway reconstruction project.

Once the officials finalize the Brooklyn-Queens Connector route, they will bring it back to affected community boards for a vote, before it goes before Council.

Harris said he doubted it will get past that stage, but advised his neighbors to prepare to fight it anyway.

“I can’t imagine that it’s going to pass, but in any event we have to prepare for the worst,” he said. “It’s very serious, I think we all have to stand up against it.”

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
On track: The city's proposed streetcar routes through Community Board 2.

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