Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon on Brooklyn Paper Radio


Simon says: Assemblywoman tells BPR a buried Gowanus Tunnel can still happen!

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Brooklyn Paper Radio

A decades-old dream of burying the hated Gowanus Expressway — a move that would free Brooklyn residents of choking pollution and remove an eyesore that has stunted the growth of Sunset Park for more than 50 years — is still alive, and one Brooklyn Heights Asssemblywoman wants to make it a reality.

Appearing on Brooklyn Paper Radio for the first time, Jo Anne Simon (D–Brooklyn Heights) told host Vince DiMiceli the plan the federal government quietly killed in 2011 is actually alive and well, and practically shovel-ready for any massive infrastructure projects President Trump wants to push through.

The key, Simon says, is moving the proposed tunnel from beneath Third Avenue to the harbor, where a straight connection can be made to the “trench” portion of the BQE just past Red Hook in Carroll Gardens.

“I’m still working on it,” she said. “You can call me ‘Queen of the Gowanus.’ ”

DiMiceli, who claimed he’d covered plans for “Brooklyn’s Big Dig” when he was a strapping young reporter back in the 1990s, was immediately on board.

“A Big Dig in Brooklyn would do wonders for Sunset Park,” DiMiceli said.

The Simon Tunnel Plan, as we’ll call it moving forward, came up thanks to an initial discussion about a common enemy — truck traffic in Brooklyn coming from Staten Island. That, Simon claimed, was the result of a disastrous move by then Staten Island Rep. Guy Molinari, who put a provision into a federal highway bill demanding the two-way toll on the VZ (as we sometimes call it) become Staten Island-bound only, which literally freed up trucks coming from points south with a less expensive route across the Narrows.

At the time, Molinari claimed removing the toll would decrease air pollution on Staten Island, where the then-hand-collected tolls did slow traffic across the island to the Goethals Bridge. Simon noted that was a reasonable point back then, but that the problem was eliminated earlier this year when toll booths were knocked down and replaced with a cashless system.

“The trucks are saving $80 to $100 a clip,” she said. “These roads not built for this kind of traffic, but the Jersey Turnpike was.”

Host, guest, and Brooklyn Paper reporter Julianne Cuba eventually got to the topic of the day, the triple cantilever of the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway, which city officials now say must be replaced or shored up by 2026, lest truck traffic be banned from the dilapidated highway.

And Simon pointed out when driving on the roadway beneath the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, it’s best to stay as far away from the harbor as possible.

“The roadway near the edges is not safe,” she said. “You want to stay near the wall.”

DiMiceli concurred.

“This is a life and death situation,” DiMiceli said. “It’s just a matter of time before that thing falls into Brooklyn Bridge Park.”

Simon, Cuba, and DiMiceli also discussed the residential towers going up at the foot of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Bridge Park, but to find out what they had to say about that, you’ll have to listen to the episode, as we are well past our word count for this “brief” summation of the show, which will undoubtedly be cut significantly for our print edition.

Brooklyn Paper radio is recorded and podcast live every week — for your convenience — from our studio in America’s Downtown and can be found, as always, right here on, on iTunes, and of course, on Stitcher.

Updated 5:51 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

an inquiring mind says:
Can we see photographs of this strapping young reporter back in the 1990 so that we can judge for ourselves the accuracy of the description?
Dec. 22, 2017, 9:46 am
motorist from oakwood, SI says:
The I-278 tunnel is an interesting proposal but I doubt it will ever be built. NYS/NYC can't do mega-projects like that anymore. 2-way tolling might return to the Verrazano once the MTA study is complete. But remember this, all those trucks heading east across the VZB are making deliveries to Brooklyn, etc.
Dec. 22, 2017, 11:16 am
BrooklynGersh from The WT says:
DiMiceli was strapping in the 1990s. I can attest.

But I am more upset that Jefferson's write-up does not mention the show's callers, one of whom taunted Simon to condemn her rogue Albany colleague Marty Goldin for harassing a cyclist. For some reason, DiMiceli cut off the conversation at that point, surely worth noting by Jefferson, who was one of my most promising reporters when I ran The Brooklyn Paper, but is clearly now a corporate stooge.
Dec. 22, 2017, 12:56 pm
BrooklynGersh from The WT says:
I obviously mean Marty Golden, above. I'm still shocked that The Brooklyn Paper has not yet covered this story, which is central to all cyclists and believers in good government.

For the uninformed, here's a link:
Dec. 22, 2017, 12:58 pm
ty from pps says:
make room for a bike lane in there
Dec. 22, 2017, 6:21 pm
Raul from Sunset park says:
Perhaps there is no need for either tunnel or highway. Find alternate means for freight transport. Water ways?
Dec. 23, 2017, 10:06 am
Tiny Tim from Brooklyn Heights says:
Boy oh Boy !!

That jo ann Simon is really a mover and shaker
Dec. 23, 2017, 7:33 pm
ujh from downtown Brooklyn says:
Jo Ann Simon is not responsible for Golden's actions/statements, the interview was not conducted to review Golden, and DiMiceli was justified in cutting off the caller. Plus, besides Molinari, then-Sen. D'Amato was instrumental in getting the one-way toll collection passed in Congress.
Dec. 24, 2017, 1:56 pm

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