Feds to mayor: Don’t count on our money for your trolley

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Mayor DeBlasio shouldn’t count on getting the federal cash he needs to roll out his beloved Brooklyn–Queens waterfront trolley line — which he on Thursday said will now cost more money, include less stops, and take years longer to build — the city’s lone Republican congressman said.

“We have many more viable projects that need federal funding — if I was the mayor, I wouldn’t be holding my breath,” said Bay Ridge Rep. Dan Donovan, a pal of DeBlasio critic President Trump, who would need to sign off on any future federal budget. “Trying to kick the costs to the federal government appears to be a last-ditch attempt to revive a dying project that just doesn’t make sense.”

Along with the commander in chief, Donovan and his fellow House Republicans, as well as their counterparts in the Senate, would dictate spending in a future budget given their majority. But Hizzoner’s Brooklyn Queens Connector streetcar isn’t likely to get federal green even if a blue wave hits Congress this November, according to a Democratic Williamsburg pol, who noted how Trump has yet to fulfill his promise of passing a massive infrastructure bill even with his party in control.

“Securing federal funding is much harder under this administration, which has repeatedly promised an infrastructure package, but we haven’t seen it yet,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

DeBlasio first announced plans for the Brooklyn Queens Connector streetcar in 2016, claiming that it’s then $2.5-billion price tag would be funded entirely by tax revenue generated by increased development along its original 14-mile track, after a consortium of builders put together an initial proposal for the scheme.

But last week the city’s Economic Development Corporation revealed the project’s cost shot up to $2.73 billion, and that local officials want the Feds to kick-in more than $1 billion towards the trolley after a much-anticipated study of the financial model revealed a surge in construction alone won’t fully subsidize it.

The new price tag wasn’t the only change to the light-rail plan following the study’s release. The city announced its original 14-mile track would shrink to 11 miles, skipping Dumbo entirely, and terminating in Red Hook instead of Sunset Park — likely a relief to the neighborhood’s Councilman Carlos Menchaca, who panned the project due to fears it would accelerate displacement in the already gentrifying enclave.

Construction of the infrastructure is now slated to begin in 2024 — the year it was initially meant to be up-and-running — and wrap in 2029, meaning work would almost certainly overlap with looming repairs to the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway’s triple cantilever, which are set to take place between 2021 and 2026 and alone will cause massive headaches for commuters.

And new renderings of the streetcar — whose new route to Queens through Red Hook, Gowanus, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Downtown, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint often mirrors that of the below-ground G train — show it may require overhead cables to help power it, after previous iterations depicted a rail-only system. But mayoral spokeswoman Jane Meyer said the city has “always explored” the overhead-cable option.

Maloney, who helped secure $670 million to replace the old Kosciuszko Bridge and $700 million to fix the L train, said she won’t be pushing for cash for the trolley until she gets more details that convince her of its benefit.

“Clearly people living in the portions of Brooklyn and Queens that I represent need more transportation alternatives, and the BQX could alleviate some of the concerns in transportation deserts, but as with everything, the devil is in the details,” she said. “I would need more information about the traffic, neighborhood and environmental impacts of the plan.”

And even if the city does manage to score funds from the Feds, a slew of other transit projects — including improving bus service and ensuring enough alternative-transportation options are in place before the L train’s Brooklyn–Manhattan tube closes for 15 months next April — deserve the money before the streetcar, according to a spokesman for Maloney’s Democratic colleague Rep. Nydia Velázquez, whose district includes many of the streetcar’s Brooklyn stops.

“The congresswoman is focused on addressing immediate transportation challenges, like establishing an enhanced B71 bus route that helps meet Red Hook’s transit needs and expanding alternatives for commuters affected by the L train closure,” said Alex Haurek.

The city plans to begin an environmental review for the Brooklyn Queens Connector project this winter, ahead of sending the scheme through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure in 2020, one year before DeBlasio concludes his second term as mayor.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 11:26 am, September 5, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Wilbur D. Horse from Froggs Neck says:
I remember seeing these things called "b-u-s-e-s." You don't have to jackhammer the streets and destroy mom and pop businesses to use the "bus" things.
Sept. 4, 2018, 5:34 am
Mustache Pete from Windsor Terrace says:
Good for the Feds. We don't need another boondoggle for deBlasio-favored contractors.
Sept. 4, 2018, 10:08 am
The Hunkster from Bed-Stuy says:
Let's be realistic: It's not going to happen during the Trump Administration. Keep in mind that every new public transportation project must require federal funds.
Sept. 4, 2018, 11:09 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I'm surprised this idea isn't dead already even though it was a lost cause from the start.
Sept. 4, 2018, 11:20 am
Gary from Fort Greene says:
Hunkster: "Every new public transportation project require federal funds." Why? Is that a rule or just an acknowledgement that New York City can't provide public transportation to its citizens without a contribution from North Dakota et al.?
Sept. 4, 2018, 11:28 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
The thought of squandering billions of dollars on the BdB boondoggle while the BQE is on the verge of collapse is enough to make any sane person vote for Trump.
Sept. 4, 2018, 12:16 pm
blogger Bill from from Boerum Hill says:
Ahem. This BQX scam (developers'fantasy) has
been dead from Day One. But don't scare the
Mayor by telling him...he's still dreaming
of Iowa. Or something. Not the taxpayers,
surely (millions squandered).
Sept. 4, 2018, 1:24 pm
BodegaBart from Canarsie Pier says:
If it was a light rail elevated system, I’d be for it. But not a glorified trolley line where we’d have to stop on the red; this is why we have busses.
Sept. 4, 2018, 3:36 pm
SCR from Realityville says:
Indeed,we should improve this area's bus-service. Riverfront streetcars,are dreams of the super-rich. Let a group of multi-billonaires, fully fund this project,or FUHGEDDABOUDIT"!!
Sept. 4, 2018, 3:56 pm
Tyler from pps says:
I really wish people were less ignorant about transportation infrastucture.

Trolleys and Streetcars are NOT the same as buses. Buses are NOT the same as trolleys and streetcars.

Trolleys and streetcars are found in cities all over the world.

21st century street-grade rail isn't the trolleys of the 1930s.

Signaling and light-priority isn't the same as the 1930s (even if it still is underground in large swathes of the MTA)
Sept. 4, 2018, 4:44 pm
Gary from BK says:
LOL at the tard who said "any sane person vote for Trump." News flash dummy, sane people don't vote for trump, only dumb people do.
Sept. 4, 2018, 6:35 pm
Tawana Brawley from Sharptonville says:
Gary from BK, seems to me that the only dumb people are the ones who are fans of the Democratic attacks on free speech, support of the MS13 “animals” and the turning of once lovely cities such as SF into sanctuary city hellholes. Let’s not forget the leftists hatred for law enforcement and the biased media trying to divide this country racially. That’s what dumb people who don’t support Trump are all about. You obviously have not or will not wake up to facts that are staring you right in the face.
Sept. 4, 2018, 8:11 pm
Moshe ARon Kestenbaum ODA from Williamsburg says:
DeBlasio has to go , this Mayor is for the books . Mayor if you believe in the trolly then build it. Asking your enemy number one to pay for it? Are you for real? Mayor your asking your enemy #1 to pay for something you want is like asking the president to wipe your a-s
Sept. 4, 2018, 8:34 pm
Gary from BK says:
*having a pretty bad week.
Sept. 4, 2018, 8:37 pm
Penny from Brooklyn Heights says:
If there isn’t federal money, the City will just have to pay for it alone.
They can raise the money by increasing tolls on bridges and making parking more expensive.
Sept. 5, 2018, 6:45 am
The Hunkster: from Bed-Stuy says:
Gary: Since the LBJ administration in 1964, the Urban Mass Transportation Act requires cities and towns to apply and receive federal funds, up to 20%, by law, before creating newer public transportation projects and/or renovating their own existing public transportation infrastructure.
Sept. 5, 2018, 8:05 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I see Gary from Bk is the new username for VZ to throw off the censors at his facility.
Sept. 5, 2018, 1:37 pm
Frank from Furter says:
NY pays much more to the federal budget than it receives. North Dakota gets back more than it pays in. Just let us keep our taxes here and we would do.much better. Repeal the amendment that allows for a federal income tax...
Sept. 5, 2018, 1:59 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Penny, and idea such as that won't work and most motorists are already tired of footing the bill for transit riders hence the opposition for congestion pricing.
Sept. 5, 2018, 2:01 pm
Frank from Furter says: in fact ND is the second highest state getting more than its money back
Sept. 5, 2018, 2:03 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Tyler, much of NYC streets aren't wide enough these days to accommodate a streetcar or trolley. Compared to the subways, they are actually slower. Another reason why so many of their tracks were removed in the first few decades of the postwar era was also because they were found to be dangerous in densely populated areas when people got hit by them. Even if GM didn't try to get rid of these, they would still be seen as obsolete as the buses weren't limited by tracks. In all honesty, grade level rails have no place for NYC in the 21st century. Overall, just get rid of this idea already and place it in the coffin.
Sept. 5, 2018, 2:40 pm
Frank from Furter says:
What made NYC was among other things the 4 track subway system which includes express trains and the elevator. With a good source of fresh clean water. We have stopped expanding the subway system since the fifties adding only the second ave partial system and The 7train extension. The subway has always been cheap and convenient. The cities population has remained relatively stagnant. It will not grow unless we expand the mass transit even more. The streets are in gridlock.
Sept. 5, 2018, 3:33 pm
Frank from Furter says:
And the drivers who clog the streets should pay for it😈
Sept. 5, 2018, 3:34 pm
Gary from BK says:
Funny how you keep up dog whistle racist comments but remove mine. This paper has shown it's true colors of allignment with bigots.

Tawana Brawley from Sharptonville, the fact that you gleefully call yourself "Tawana Brawley from Sharptonville" tells me just how racist you are in a dog whistle kind of way.
Secondly, what I have learned about you:
1) You don't really know what the 1st amendment says, if you did you would understand why "Democratic attacks on free speech" is an idiotic statement regarding the 1st amendment.
2)"support of the MS13", this statement is even dumber than the first.
3) You spew even dumber comments than the previous and I don't have the time nor energy to explain it to you. I know enough about you already to realize I'm a better person and you feel the need to blame others for your shortcomings. Good day, stupid. Oh, and your idiot president has been have a pretty bad week, just about every week.
Sept. 5, 2018, 7:24 pm

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