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Promen-Nada! Historic Heights walkway could close to public to make way for cars

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It’s a triple-cantilever threat!

The Brooklyn Heights Promenade — the historic walkway that some say makes the Heights the Heights — will become a speedway for Brooklyn-Queens Expressway traffic, sending cars, trucks, and buses zipping by at eye-level during the reconstruction of the crumbling roadway beneath, transit leaders announced on Thursday.

In order to get the job done by 2026, the city must shift all traffic on the decrepit roadway to a temporary elevated one at the promenade level for at least three years — half the time it will take to finish the job — while contractors build a new triple-cantilever structure, according to Tanvi Pandya, project manager with the city’s Department of Transportation, which is overseeing the repairs.

And Pandya did not mince words when describing the effects the new route will have on the quiet neighborhood.

“That is a dramatic impact,” she said.

To make way for the cars, workers would have to erect columns along Furman Street, tear out the existing Promenade and its trees, and lay down enough blacktop to make a six-lane roadway — something that could take a year and a half to pull off, thus closing the park to the public well before cars make it their home.

Traffic would then shift from the current roadway to the temporary one while workers build the new tiered, cantilever structure, before bringing it back down to the rehabbed BQE, according to Pandya.

On the bright side, the new Promenade will be 35 feet wider after work is finished, according to Pandya, who said the city would try to incentivize the yet-be-selected contractor to finish as quickly as possible. The roadway below would feature wider lanes and shoulders — something missing from he 1950s-era highway.

Alternatively, the city could close the Promenade for a shorter period of time and not move cars to it if it chooses a plan that would refurbish the triple cantilever on a lane-by-lane basis. But that plan would take until at least 2029 — three years past the believed end of life for the present highway, when experts warn it could start collapsing under the weight of the thousands of trucks that traverse it daily.

The incremental reconstruction plan, which the city is calling the “traditional approach,” would cost between $3.4-and-$4-billion and wreak havoc on local streets, causing backups for up to 12 miles, according to Pandya, who said more of the work would be done in the middle of the night and on weekends.

Work to rehabilitate the 1.5-mile stretch of expressway from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street can start as early as 2020 and wrap by 2026, now that state lawmakers passed a budget authorizing use of the streamlined design-build process for the city-led job, which will allow the Department of Transportation to solicit one bid for both the design and construction phases of the project, instead of contracting separate firms for each.

Transit leaders will present the two options to the community throughout the fall — the first during a public meeting on Sept. 27 — until selecting a design-build team, which will ultimately decide the best approach for rehabilitating the old infrastructure, according to Pandya.

Officials believe there are more benefits to doing all the work in one fell swoop, even if that means closing the nearly 70-year-old Promenade, which was constructed by New York City master builder Robert Moses as a comprise with Heights residents who didn’t want homes in their neighborhood demolished to make way for his beloved highway.

“I’ve had Brooklyn Heights residents say to me, ‘We know Robert Moses built the thing on the cheap and this day would come when it would need to be replaced, reconstructed, and rehabilita­ted,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.

And that day has come.

Public meeting on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway at the National Grid Auditorium (1 MetroTech Center, 2nd floor) Sept. 27 at 6:30 pm.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 12:29 pm, September 21, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Brian from Fort Greene says:
How about we don’t do that, and decide to construct, support, and inhabit a city with fewer cars and trucks and become a model of a new, conscientious, pedestrian, bicycle, and mass grand sit/focused urbanism? That sounds like a nightmare destined to beget another nightmare 70 years hence.
Sept. 20, 9:38 pm
Mike from Prospect Heights says:
What a waste of tax money. Can't we put a toll on this road?
Sept. 20, 10:32 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
This is great! I can’t wait to take in those views while I’m out for a drive.
Sept. 20, 11:29 pm
Will from Park Slope says:
No new construction without new tolls. The toll should total cover the cost of construction and provide something extra to the community for having to put up with construction and with trucks. The people who use these roads don't live in this community. They come in, they spew chemicals and smoke into the air, they cause noises, vibration, honking, sometimes they even kill people. They should pay for it somehow. No new construction without new tolls.
Sept. 21, 8:26 am
Seriously? from Seriously! says:
Fewer trucks = no food, dummkopf!
Sept. 21, 9:21 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
They plan on eating the rich, Seriously.
Sept. 21, 1:42 pm
Alexandra Borodin from Fort Greene says:
Brooklyn Bridge "Park" must be thrilled... Not to mention every group, business and civic, with an interest in Brooklyn tourism. Morons will try to put this off on Brooklyn Heights, as if people don't come here from all over the world. And though I wasn't thrilled with how it was "financed," Brooklyn Bridge "Park" is now important, as the Promenade is also of course. TOLLS and less trucks are definitely part of the solution but might not be enough.
Sept. 21, 1:43 pm
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
Will from Park Slope wrote: "The people who use these roads don't live in this community." What are you talking about, I live in this community and use the BQE frequently. Personally, I'm not opposed to a toll, but I can easily afford it. For a lot of lower income people who need cars to commute, it could be a bigger hit. And, the effect of tolls is just going to push more people to select "Avoid Tolls" on waze and cause more congestion on the local streets.
Sept. 21, 2:48 pm
Trams Alt activist from East Bubblefokk Ohio says:
Lower income people will no longer be permitted to own cars, and more congestion will be what forces the lower classes out of their cars, and onto subways where they belong.
Sept. 21, 2:58 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I just hope mom gives me her keys.
Sept. 21, 3:02 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Unfortunately, the relocated traffic will have to go somewhere during the time of the reconstruction, so unless any of you can come up with any alternatives, it might have to be where they are planning for it.
Sept. 21, 5:35 pm
obstructed view from DUMBO says:
Can they tear down Brooklyn Bridge Park for the temporary road way while rebuilding the triple cantilever?
Sept. 21, 6:53 pm
steph from fort greene says:
this sounds like a bad idea
Sept. 21, 7:13 pm
TOM from Sunset Park says:
You know of course the State won't contribute a dime to this. Thanks again, Andy. To think he even held back on Design n' Build, What a guy.
Sept. 21, 8:32 pm
bing from bong says:
Someone needs to move out of moms basement and get their own set of wheels!
Sept. 21, 9:08 pm
Homeophathic Economicst from Vinegar Hill says:
There is no such thing as a "lower income" person who "needs" a car in NYC to "commute." Give me ONE example. They wouln't be able to own a car or pay for their insurance, for starters. They might be a commercial driving license holder with a poor job but that's another story.
Sept. 21, 10:46 pm
Tanya says:
Horrible
Sept. 22, 1:24 am
BrookllynLove from Fort Greene says:
This is a massive project. Complex and considerable scope. No way it gets done in less than 15 years, given the realities of how these public infrastructure rehabs play out.
Sept. 22, 5:59 am
Moparz from Bed Stuy says:
This plan sounds unrealistic. What about using surface streets such as Furman, Atlantic and Court during the six years of construction? What did trucks do before the BQE was built?
Sept. 22, 6:44 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
There would be money if the gas tax had not been raided for other political pet projects. If they put a toll on the road, you will pay for it with everything you buy from the apples they don't grow in Brooklyn, to the furniture that arrives at Ikea - you remember the Ikea you didn't want because of the "pooolluuution".
Sept. 22, 9:36 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Rufus Leaking, I fear the same would happen if congestion pricing or any other form of tolling would be passed, so I believe it's important to fix the agencies that are collecting the already existing revenues before thinking about any of these.
Sept. 22, 12:48 pm
Lisa from Downtown says:
First of all, there weren't NEARLY as many large trucks years ago; the # today is asinine and obviously unsustainable. "Hilarious" to see, however, the idiot 18 wheelers getting stuck because they ventured off truck routes and can't make the turn. Cops sometimes but not often enough ticket these idiots-- I'm looking at you, Rite Aid, for one. All but the infirmed should go to their local stores too instead of relyinig on Fresh Direct; those trucks are smaller but still clog up roads large and small. Granted, some neighborhoods don't have regular groceries anymore but that can be resolved, or should be.
Sept. 22, 4:05 pm
Old time Brooklyn from Slope says:
How about wind powered skateboards you know with a sail Lisa why should someone. Due to age or disability not have access to everything
Sept. 22, 5:07 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Some of you people really don’t deserve food, or medicine, or any essentials that are delivered by trucks smfh.
Sept. 22, 5:36 pm
Virgil Payne from Irishtown says:
How did Brooklyn support NEARLY THREE MILLION people before there eighteen wheelers everywhere? Some of you are so beyond stupid and ignorant I think we need a chromosone check just see if your humanoid. And if eighteen wheelers are, in rare instances, necessary, they should be forced to make their deliveries at very restricted hours. Still waiting to hear from those "poor" "drivers" who have "no choice" but to use the BQE.
Sept. 22, 7:37 pm
Sparkle from Bay Ridge says:
We can deliver all the food we need by unicycle or sledges pulled by dogs.
Sept. 22, 9:02 pm
Frank from Furter says:
Prior to the 1950 trains were ferried across the harbor and then they were trains delivered to the local areas or then trucked out in smaller even horse drawn carts. There were train ferry terminals in industry city in the piers under the promenade and across nycity. You see the remnants of the tracks in dumbo and elsewhere. It's why the cross harbor freight train tunnel is an imperative.
Sept. 22, 10:50 pm
Frank from Furter says:
It's the only way to cut the 18 wheelers
Sept. 22, 10:53 pm

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