State official: BQE could crumble before repairs

The Brooklyn Paper
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State officials revealed on Tuesday night that a colossal renovation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway won’t likely begin until 2020 — nearly 30 years beyond the roadway’s original lifespan.

The shocking announcement came as the state Department of Transportation told Community Board 2 that repairs to the deteriorating 1-1/2-mile triple cantilever stretch under the Brooklyn Heights Promenade wouldn’t start until 2020, two years after the 2018 launch it announced last fall.

That part of the roadway was built in 1949 to last just 40 years — though Peter King, the state director of the BQE project, said it is still “safe.”

Later, he said that the road still has a “10- to 15-year window” before it declines steeply.

But 2020 — the shaky new start date for the reconstruction — is 11 years away.

Locals seemed nervous about any delays on fixing the decrepit roadway.

“How did we lose two years?” John Dew, chairman of Community Board 2, asked at the meeting.

Officials explained the delay simply: the project to rebuild the highway between Sands Street and Atlantic Avenue is awfully complex.

The roadway includes 21 bridges, crosses five subway tunnels, wraps around densely populated neighborhoods, abuts the proposed Brooklyn Bridge Park and carries 140,000 vehicles a day. As such, it’s impossible to pinpoint a start date at this time.

“Hopefully, we didn’t lose two years,” said King. “It’s very difficult to be exact.”

He cited the “smooth” 10-year planning process to rebuild the Kosciuszko Bridge in Greenpoint as an example of the endurance required in monumental infrastructure projects.

Referencing Winston Churchill, King said: “We may be at the end of the beginning.”

Besides simply replacing the failing interstate, King told the audience at NYU-Polytechnic Institute in Downtown that the project would try to improve some of the glaring problems motorists have experienced for years, like:

• narrow lanes.

• no shoulder.

• near constant traffic.

• a high accident rate.

It’s too soon to estimate the project’s cost, but the federal government and state would shoulder the astronomical price tag. Under existing arrangements, Washington provides 80 percent of the funding and the state ponies up 20 percent.

Another public session is scheduled for June 22, when the public can voice its concerns or make suggestions about rebuilding the BQE to the state.

Brooklyn Heights residents will no doubt share fears that BQE traffic will be diverted through their residential neighborhood when the repairs finally get underway. And planners of Brooklyn Bridge Park, who say their project will be mostly built by 2020, will want to protect their property from a detour, too.

The state Department of Transportation scoping hearing will be June 22 at NYU-Polytechnic Institute [5 Metrotech Center, corner of Jay Street and Myrtle Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn, (718) 482-4526], time is to be determined.

Updated 5:12 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Pat from Bay Ridge says:
Good. Maybe the thing can join other urban expressways that never should have been built in the first place, and have since collapsed and/or been demolished, like the West Side Highway and San Francisco's Central Freeway and Embarcadero Freeway.
May 13, 2009, 1:10 am
mike from gp says:
Perhaps the State should just demolish the BQE. As Pat said, it's worked very well elsewhere, and could really improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. Spend the money on something more important than cars!
May 13, 2009, 10:01 am
Dave from BH says:
Yeah that would be brilliant - take all the traffic and take it off the highway and put it right into residential streets!

You morons do realize that NYC is not connected to the US by rail - so therefore EVERYTHING we consume or export goes by surface transport.....
May 13, 2009, 10:11 am
sid from Boerum Hill says:
This is a terrible article and doesn't inform the public that the scoping meeting where all this will be discussed and alternatives listened to(what needs to be done were the traffic will go) will take place at the scoping meeting on June 22. The West side Highway never carried trucks-it was a repair truck that caused it to fail-The BQE is the only interstate truck highway in Brooklyn remove it and the trucks will be on the city's streets in that I agree with Dave.
Money for the cross harbor tunnel that will allow direct access to Brooklyn for trains has already been appropriated for a study but until that is done, trucks have to bring your food in....

this is the worst yellow journalism I have seen in a while. The BQE is NOT in any danger and money has been appropriate for its repair and maintenance. The issue is the current design is outdated doesn't meet current standards(there is one accident every 4 days in the current configuration) and needs to be updated before it really fails. Good maintenance will keep it from failing and it still needs major work...yes it takes time to get it right and the most time consuming part is getting PUBLIC input. Its too bad the paper didn't report how the public can do that.
May 13, 2009, 10:40 am
Pat from Bay Ridge says:
Wrong. Expressways attract traffic. Without it, there would be less traffic, and the traffic would be dispersed over a large area. By your logic, the entire west side of Manhattan should be drowning in traffic because the West Side Highway isn't there anymore. Yet somehow it isn't. Instead, there's less traffic, and at the same time more development. Go figure.
May 13, 2009, 10:54 am
Pat from Bay Ridge says:
San Francisco is even less connected by rail to the rest of America than NYC is. Yet somehow they muddle through after the loss of several miles of freeways after the '89 quake.
May 13, 2009, 11:07 am
nancy from the chelsea hotel says:
without wading into the argument above, the article is still pretty bad. the presentation wasn't to the community board. to say the renovation is of the BQE is way too general; it is only the triple cantilever and, maybe, the entrances and exits at Atlantic Avenue--no mention whatsoever of the latter. no explanation of what the June 22 scoping session is all about, which makes me wonder if Mr. McLaughlin understands himself. the reporter recently won an award, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and point my finger at the urge to post stories on the website before they are ready.
May 13, 2009, 11:15 am
Douglas Willinger says:
The SF Freeways were stub ends, whereas the BQE segment here is part of LI's sole continuous interstate link to the west.

Build the tunnel while using and re-using the existing roadways involves the least traffic disruption, and ultimately the least environmental impact with the tunnel containing the traffic emissions with filtration systems as done overseas, while at last bringing the highway to modern safety standards.
Dec. 2, 2011, 11:27 pm

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