City cuts open BQE, finds it has 10 years to live

Drill baby drill: Workers cutting into the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway’s triple cantilever bridge for the first time in its 70-year lifespan.
Brooklyn Paper
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This is the inside scoop!

The city must start fixing the crumbling three-tiered section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway soon, or else it will need to shut the busy thoroughfare for emergency repairs in a decade and send tens of thousands of cars to residential Brooklyn Heights streets, Department of Transportation officials say they have determined after recently cutting into the decrepit roadway for the first time since it was built almost 70 years ago.

“The structure has been out there 60-some years and things are starting show their long life now,” project manager Tanvi Pandya told community members at a meeting about the repairs on Nov. 1. “At this point we really need to start planning, otherwise in 10 to 12 years we can expect that we’ll have to shut down the lanes day and night … there’s going to be major disruptions because obviously when people can’t go on the BQE they’re going to have to go on local streets.”

Over summer, workers drilled into several spots in the triple cantilever bridge, which runs from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street and is already 10 years past its expected lifespan. Inside, they found scaffolding from when the thoroughfare was first built in 1949, but fortunately nothing drastically wrong, Pandya said.

They conducted several tests on the concrete to find out how durable it still is and found that it had been worn down from cold weather, and that a few more freezing winters will speed up the damage, according to Pandya.

“If we have several winters with lots of snow we’re looking at quicker deterioration of the structure,” she said.

There are also many leaky joints that are causing extra wear and tear, she said.

Locals hounded the transportation reps with concerns about traffic being diverted onto local streets during the repairs, but they assured residents that the contractor who gets the gig must keep Furman Street and three lanes of traffic on the roadway open in every direction.

“There is no plan to shut Furman Street as of now,” said Bob Collyer, the city’s deputy commissioner of bridges. “Nothing is going to be shut down, we’re looking to keep traffic flowing.”

Collyer also promised neighbors that they won’t have to deal with additional construction from Mayor DeBlasio’s planned streetcar, as he scuttled plans the city had to bring the so-called Brooklyn-Queens Connector along Furman Street.

“The BQX had a proposal to run along York and Furman Street and along Columbia down towards the tunnel and I told them ‘You’ve got to stay away from the BQE or were just gonna stop it right now,’ ” he said. “If they’re coming by my structure, yes I get upset.”

Funding for the reconstruction will come mostly out of the city’s coffers, and federal officials have promised they will also contribute, but the state is still refusing to kick in any cash, despite demands from local residents and pols, according to Collyer.

State honchos were planning to fund the fixes several years ago, but nixed their plans in 2011 after deciding the decrepit hanging roadway wasn’t “urgent” enough, Collyer told the crowd.

The expressway is state-controlled, but Albany has wriggled out of paying for the patch-up through a loophole that leaves it off the hook for fixing highways that don’t meet specific federal standards.

Repairs are expected to begin in 2024 and end in 2029, although they could be done between 2021 and 2026 if the state passes legislation to allow the city Department of Transportation to use the same contractor for design and construction, the reps said.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. from BS, BK, NY, HS says:
Why not the city to cancel this BQX boondoggle and divert $2.5B to improve our own transportation infrastructure, from funding the MTA Capital Program, to increase funding for improving roads and bridges, including the BQE? Never mind: There is major bureaucracy along the progressive administration in City Hall.
Nov. 2, 2016, 12:59 pm
Rob from Greenpoint says:
Why not tear down the BQE and let the neighborhoods live, like other forward-thinking cities?
Nov. 2, 2016, 4:09 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Unfortunately, those that support getting rid of the BQE altogether don't seem to understand what can happen after that. Being a heavily used highway especially for commercial vehicles, it can cause them to pack the normal streets. That is the very reason why those fighting to get rid of the Sheridan Expressway over in The Bronx pretty much lost on their claim. I would rather have this highway fixed than taken down. BTW, there are a number of Brooklyn neighborhoods that do have high asthma rates and having commercial vehicles go through them much more constantly will only make them worse.
Nov. 2, 2016, 4:51 pm
Tyler from pps says:
Unfortunately, Tal... people do understand how commercial traffic works. You're just not one of them.

I really do wonder if you have EVER had a thought that didn't boil down to "bigger road = better" and "change is bad"
Nov. 2, 2016, 5:01 pm
Tyler from pps says:
(i meant, change is bad, unless it's a bigger road)
Nov. 2, 2016, 5:27 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
This fake Tal above is a complete moron. Not sure why this idiot keeps impersonating me.
Nov. 2, 2016, 5:41 pm
Trollerskates from Moving Target says:
Just think of all the money that will be saved when it collapses on its own.
Nov. 2, 2016, 6:36 pm
Mom from Clinton Hill says:
If it were a luxury condo, it would be built already.
Nov. 2, 2016, 9:58 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Both of those comments above were not me. I was at home but not even using my computer. I was rolling around in my neighbor's dog's feces and fingering myself. I then had the dog penetrate me many many times for hours before the family came home. The dog was sick and have a very smelly diarrhea that was a cross between mustard and peanut butter. If you don't believe me then you can stop by and smell me since I haven't showered. In fact I won't shower, I will just let it dry up and flake off at which point I will eat them like potato chips. You people need to grow up and stop impersonating me.
Nov. 3, 2016, 4:24 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
First of all, knock it off with the impersonations of me especially when I was away from computer for the whole day until now. The point is that the BQE does need to be repaired and that can't be avoided. Also, I feel that it's more cheaper to just simply renovate this highway rather redesign it entirely. The real reason why some neighborhoods went into poverty during the beginning of the postwar era wasn't because of this highway, it was because of themselves. I'm getting sick and tired of those who are using highways as a scapegoat. Some need to keep in mind that when they were first built, they weren't made to create the car culture, just react to it especially in getting vehicles around more efficiently. Getting rid of this highway altogether will be a bad idea especially when commercial vehicles start packing up local roads and increasing asthma rates.
Nov. 3, 2016, 5:21 pm
Roberto from post turn of the century says:
water damage, the result of either poor construction or neglect
Nov. 3, 2016, 5:35 pm
Bill Harris from Pacific Street says:
Article says Albany used loophole to wriggle out
of responsibility to maintain Cantilever because
it didn't comply with standards for interstate
highways. These standards were only created
almost 20 years later. The State owns this road
and should face up, rather than sticking NYC
Nov. 3, 2016, 7:26 pm
Catherine from Bay Ridge says:
Maybe if those organized criminals who are in charge of construction on this road actually did maitainence work, it would be better. Then drill holes, claiming to be doing analyses of the structure, bu they are actually just sabbotaging it. Bring in a new team to work on it. These guys are just sucking up the money and making it worse.
Nov. 4, 2016, 7:31 am

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