Anywhere but here! Locals to city: Keep cars off Promenade, send them along Bridge Park

Packed house: Andrew Ball, at mic, joined hundreds of locals who turned out to the first public meeting on the Department of Transportation’s plans for repairing the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway’s triple cantilever.
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Transit officials must keep their hands off Brooklyn Heights’s beloved Promenade and return to the drawing board with their plan for rerouting Brooklyn–Queens Expressway traffic during the looming repairs to its triple cantilever, hundreds of fired-up residents demanded at the first of several public meetings about the job on Thursday.

Some attendees said they would rather vehicles be rerouted along Brooklyn Bridge Park via Furman Street than see a six-lane highway replace the scenic esplanade for up to six years while the crumbling stretch of three-tiered expressway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street is shored up.

“Why can’t the six-lane temporary roadway be built out to the west above Brooklyn Bridge Park?” asked local Scott St. Marie, whose question was met with a more than 20-second ovation from the crowd, along with an audible “Oh, boy…” from transit chief Polly Trottenberg, who joined other city officials on a panel at the event.

Department of Transportation bigwigs claimed their studies showed a park-adjacent roadway would be unfeasible, but the local councilman said he’d support further exploration of that option — even if laying down asphalt requires destroying the multi-million-dollar, noise-muffling berms that meadow officials recently built along parts of the green space.

“It’s not out of the question,” said Councilman Stephen Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights). “If that wastes tens of millions of dollars, then that obviously would be a shame, but this is a four-to-five-billion dollar project. I would like to see every single option on the table.”

And a local civic guru in the standing-room only crowd — which two attendees estimated included between 1,300 and 2,000 people, but a Transportation Department spokeswoman claimed was more around 500 — blasted officials for seemingly already moving forward with that plan despite revealing it just one week ago.

“People came by my office this week to express their concerns, they have all been vehemently opposed to the temporary elevated structure,” said Brooklyn Heights Association president Peter Bray. “One thing that a number of people believe is that the decision has already been made to go with that option.”

Transportation Department leaders promised to build a new, wider Promenade if they rip up the existing infrastructure, but Bray questioned whether there will be enough cash at the end of the fix to foot its bill if that option, which would cost between $3.2 and $3.6 billion, is chosen.

“What guarantee do we have that you won’t run out of money and the Promenade will not be restored,” he said. “I think all of us would appreciate hearing on that issue.”

Agency leaders, including Trottenberg, assured the funds to rebuild the Promenade would not disappear should they proceed with that plan — which she also said is not a done deal, before admitting that no solution will be pleasant.

“We’re in circles of hell,” Trottenberg said. “A lot of people are going to hate what we propose, but none of the alternatives are loveable.”

Last week, the city also proposed an option to repair the cantilever lane by lane that would not require turning the Promenade into a speedway, and would only close it for up to two years, but cautioned that job would cost between $3.4 and $4 billion and could last until 2029 — three years after Transportation Department leaders said the expressway would start to crumble beneath the weight of the thousands of big rigs that travel it daily, forcing the city to send the trucks down local streets instead.

Trottenberg, who fielded several boos from the crowd throughout the three-hour session, emphasized that the meeting was the first of many about the forthcoming project — which is set to kick off in 2021 after the state approved local transit leaders’ use of the streamlined designed-build process earlier this year — and that officials will continue to talk to locals and review all options in order to devise a final solution.

Needs work: The triple cantilever.
In the hot seat: Department of Transportation chief Polly Trottenberg fielded questions — and boos — throughout the three-hour affair.
Crowd favorite: Scott St. Marie drew prolonged applause from attendees when he asked Trottenberg why expressway traffic couldn’t be rerouted along Brooklyn Bridge Park, instead of on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
Don't touch: Residents pushed the city to find a way to repair the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway's triple cantilever that won't require ripping up the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
Updated 5:13 pm, October 3, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

blogger Bill from from Boerum Hill says:
Encouraged to see 1300+ fellow Brooklynites turned out, even if I found NYCDOT solutions wanting. Tunneling is today an acceptable if more expensive way--and won't require rebuilding in 75 years (or ever). Forcing higher tolls for trucks at the Verrazano will cut heavy volume, allowing local traffic to use a reinforced (but not restructured) Cantilever. A lot of heavy through traffic can be tunneled/diverted. This can be done, people. Time for cheapo/spendthrift fixes to be discredited, along with timid DOT visions. Lets build for the 22nd century and beyond.
Sept. 28, 2018, 12:39 pm
Frank from Furter says:
A tunnel would be nice but cost 10-15 billion dollars at least more likely 20 or more Require taking residences and not be finished for 20 years..there are 4 subway tunnels that makes it infeasible. High truck tools already makes trucks avoid the Staten island bound side.
Sept. 28, 2018, 2:42 pm
Anon from Brooklyn Heights says:
Leave it to the ever negative Frank to provide false information, again. The tunnel idea, cooked up by a local guy Roy Sloan is brilliant. Sloan's tunnel - the one that primarily goes down 4th ave, beginning at the Navy Yard and commencing where the BQE meets the Verrazzano Bridge - was broadly estimated to cost $2.5-3.5 billion at the time they ran the first well attended community advisory meetings over 5 years (ending in 2012 due to the retirement of the State DOT guy Peter King and presumably, the State wanting to get out of this gordian knot of a problem ). Creating it when many of us had advocated for it, and even before the park was built, would have let them use federal dollars. Costs on tunnels have also come down in the interim due to better and more machinery - that is the only good news while we waited for our elected officials to wake up. This solution will improve transportation overall (unlike the city's plan which only repairs the problem but does improve Brooklyn's current patterns of vehicles particularly the vehicles that just pass through); it takes noisy, polluting trucks off of the BQE triple cantilevered roadbed; it allows for the incremental repair/less invasive repair of the roadbed, and improves 4th ave, too, where people now live (it had been mostly an industrial street, now loaded with condos). This is the only reasonable thing to do, and better late than never. Let's just do it! The Verrazano must also be tolled BOTH ways to also cut down on the traffic - that is a basic, no-brainer - but the tunnel will improve transportation for the ages and must be done now or it will never be done and we will never be rid of the traffic that will only increase with the heavy load of new housing (15,000 units and more just downtown) in today's pipeline (with no plans for any other transportation improvements in the works).
Sept. 28, 2018, 5:08 pm
Frank from Furter says:
its a pipe dream if you think this can be done for under 20 billion as a tunnel and 15-20 years as well. The Roy Sloane one would cost much more. You would need to either dig it below the subway that is under 4th avenue now...or move the 4th avenue subway...How much did the second avenue subway cost? How long did the second avenue subway take? 40 years and only a small portion is complete... To change the toll on the V-N to two way requires a change in federal law(thank you Senator D'Amato). I would actually prefer a better solution but there isn't one that will cost the 3-4 billion they currently have set aside for this. I do think the better solution is to get the trucks off the road mostly by the cross harbor tunnel...but the Governor refuses to commit the Sunnyside yards to that either.
Sept. 28, 2018, 8:01 pm
blogger Bill from from Boerum Hill says:
Anon from Brooklyn Heights speaks truth.
Sept. 28, 2018, 8:42 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
The money spent on a tunnel would not be wasteful spending as long as there is a political appetite to get return on the investment by tolling it. Besides all the benefits listed above, it would pay for itself and eventually turn a profit.
Sept. 28, 2018, 9:24 pm
ujh from Westchester says:
Anon: If I remember correctly, Alan Swerdlow, Jo Anne Simon, Blogger Bill and their associates were early tunnel proponents - before Roy Sloan - although not extending to the BQE/Verrazzano Bridge interschange. Obviously, the tunnel must be deep enough to avoid existing subterranean structures. The resulting depth may require a longer tunnel than you propose to accommodate the steep grade. Another point not raised here: Lack of connectivity to and from the Manhattan Bridge: Flatbush Avenue and Canal Street form a principal truck route; not all deliveries destined for Manhattan are possible via other East River bridges. We are also still waiting for the tunnel connecting the New Jersey ports with the remaining railway right of way in Brooklyn, which has been urged by Rep. Nadler for many years, so that goods can be transported by rail to Long Island.
Sept. 28, 2018, 10:56 pm
Janey from LES says:
And that knucklehead Henry Ford should Be punished from driving. He should be forced to walk
Sept. 29, 2018, 8:43 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I wouldn't be surprised if Anon and blogger Bill are the same person considering that their comments on converting the BQE into a tunnel are pretty much the same.
Sept. 29, 2018, 1:17 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I wouldn't be surprised if Anon and blogger Bill are the same person considering that their comments on converting the BQE into a tunnel are pretty much the same.
Sept. 29, 2018, 1:35 pm
Sparkle from Bay Ridge says:
I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone posting is the same person. Perhaps with multiple personalities.
Sept. 29, 2018, 5:11 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone posting is the same person. Perhaps with multiple personalities.
Sept. 29, 2018, 8:14 pm
The big dig from NYC says:
Now is the time to dig. This approach of closing the promenade is not the way to go! NYC is so behind on infrastructure updates its disgusting. Our tax dollars are spent on these small minded approaches. We need to begin to focus on improvements for the future and beyond. Dig now BQE tunnel is the way to go.
Sept. 29, 2018, 11:38 pm
tunneler alert from Brooklyn says:
Calling all the tunnelers, calling all the tunnelers! Replacing the cantilevered structure would be a very grave mistake - because it's a hidden gem. Let's first share how we can work around it - literally. In the scheme of it, a tunnel is a worth-while endeavor and far superior to another cantilever. We go under starting where we are already subgrade, from "the ditch", south of Atlantic, we go through the hard rock under Brooklyn Heights (perfect for tunneling) and reconnect to the north of Brooklyn Heights. There would be multiple tubes that connect seamlessly to the Brooklyn & Manhattan Bridges while the main tubes reconnecting directly to the BQE. When doing so, there'd be no interruption in traffic, no disturbance to the surrounding neighborhoods and there'd be no more traffic to be seen, no more exhaust to breathe (tunnels have air filtration/cleaning systems), no more vehicle/truck rumbling and horns to he heard. Peace & tranquility restored!
Sept. 29, 2018, 11:44 pm
tunneler continued from Brooklyn says:
For existing cantilever part. Our triple cantilever gets polished and goes from the "diamond in the rough" to the "diamond in the cut" worthy of Brooklyn Heights. The "Brooklyn Heights Triple Cantilever River Walk". Three levels of River Walk instead of one we have. The upper staying as is, while the lower two become prime commercial real estate for the like of shops, restaurants, outdoor cafes and entertainment. An unmatched space in NYC and the perfect compliment to Brooklyn Heights and the new Brooklyn Bridge Park. So I ask, why are we leaving the decision to the government? Let's decide for ourselves.‎
Sept. 29, 2018, 11:51 pm
tunneler alert from Brooklyn says:
...please don't believe the hype. Just because they did a study 1) doesn't mean it was correct, 2) doesn't mean that NYC's most major thoroughfare isn't worth the cost, 3) if they did the enormous feat of the "big dig" in Boston, we could certainly do the "biggest dig yet" in NYC. If there's an obstacle (subway), then take it out (reroute)! (if thy right eye offends the, then pluck it out!) Many ways to borrow including going out into the east river and around to the north side. Let's do a public mapping caret - give us the facts and we'll find the way.
Sept. 30, 2018, 2:19 am
tunneler alert from Brooklyn says:
Whoops, dang spell checks... Many ways to burrow including going out into the east river and around to the north side. Let's do a public mapping charrette - give us the facts and we'll find the way.
Sept. 30, 2018, 2:31 am
Frank from Furter says:
The big dig and boston does not have the extensive subway system ny city does. The Boston system also ran into issues with underground tunnels which they have much less than we do. What Boston did was build mostly cut and cover pre built tunnel sections dig out the beds for those sections and then sink them and cover them in trenches in the soft mud. I am sure that there are extensive subway and other tunnels in this area. There are significant soil and her rock issues in this area. The engineering alone will take 10 years. How would you connect an east river tunnel to the manhattan and Brooklyn bridges? You can accuse me of being negative all you want but this is a pipe dream. Btw if would be easier to go under Atlantic ave, down under Brooklyn bridge blvd and then over to tillery st at least then the connections to the two bridges would be easier. Btw you could also build a temporary viaduct the same way without using the promenade..
Sept. 30, 2018, 5:23 am
Frank from Furter says: It took over 20 years. 4 times the original cost and parts of the original plan have not been completed.
Sept. 30, 2018, 5:34 am
Seeing selfish people from Brooklyn says:
So, Brooklyn Heights residents don't want any disruption to their lives; instead the entirety of the working and middle classes of southwest and southern Brooklyn should have their subway service destroyed for years with tunneling and rerouting (to where!?). Also, Fourth Avenue has always been residential (many churches too) south of about 36th street.
Sept. 30, 2018, 7:27 am
Judi Francis from Cobble Hill says:
Thank you Bill and Anon for your endorsement of Roy's idea. OK, so, first: Roy's last name is Sloane with an e ( i happen to know because it is my married name, too). Second, the tunnel idea that he developed, and yes, Bill Harris, Brian Ketchum, Carolyn Konheim and others have shared in with constructive ideas and support, would actually improve the transportation issues we face today in Bklyn. As the DOT Commissioner said at this meeting, the BQE is the only interstate going through Brooklyn - we need more solutions not just a repair of the current mess with a promised upgrade to the Promenade but no more through put solutions. That is failure in my calculation. A tunnel, primarily under 4th ave, would be a solution - a second major thoroughfare needed today let alone in the next three years when an excess of 50,000 new residents will descend upon downtown Brooklyn alone. Yes, 50 thousand in stages of development right now not including the super talls planned for Boreum Hill and Atlantic Yards either! That would mean the BQE bridges - there are 27 of them requiring fixed here, beyond the triple cantilevered roadbed - could be repaired in parts, as others have stated correctly, without the extraordinary dangers of the highway abbutting people's bedroom windows along the repair route for what is realistically considered 8 to 10 years. Also, Roy's idea was for that part of the road to b it into a parke made into a park way, for cars only. The other people named had other tunnel ideas but they were quite different and would not make sense in today's world. Also, as the DOT pointed out - going down 4th Ave avoids all the problems of tunnels and water mains, too. Win, win, yes! Roy's idea was for the tunnel to commence at the Navy Yard (no eminent domain needed unless they continue to sell off federal land which would soon make it more difficult but govt now owns the land where the connection would be made today and it is un-encumbered) and it would terminate at the Verrazano (unlike other ideas). It also means that 4th ave, which is a residential street could then return to having parking on it (vs. the highway alternative it is today, done very badly). There are many other reasons, as noted above, why this is a great idea but at the end of the day, if DOT does to us what the Brooklyn Bridge Park people did to us, then absolutely nothing that they promise will come about as they promise now. They will reneg, not have the funds to restore our destroyed parks or promenade or anything good for the quality of our lives. Those who promoted housing in the park should be very scared about this project - you got screwed then and will soon be if there aren't iron clad commitments (which are impossible to attain as I had one with Daniel Squadron who gave up his veto over housing in order to try to secure his next job as Public Advocate). But I digress. This is further reason why a tunnel makes sense, to be built at the same time as parts of the BQE are repaired - at least with the Federal Government (ok, granted, after 2020) involved there is a chance of fairness. But deBlasio running this show? Really?!
Sept. 30, 2018, 4:44 pm
Frank from Furter says:
Federal money if available requires truck access. The fdr was wpa money. In fact no federal funds were used for I278 section for the triple cantilever. The federal highway trust has no money and no approved new bill. The big dig is named after Thomas tip O'Neill who was the speaker of the house from Boston and secured 80% funding for the interstates. Yes federal money was used in 2007 for the brooklyn bridge as part of President Obama's infrastructure building and works projects. Maybe if you called it The trump highway and wall you could get some money. No federal money not a cent is budgeted for the current repair and little if any state money...The state money was used for a bridge in Tarrytown. It's 100 the city's dime.
Sept. 30, 2018, 5:04 pm
Frank from Furter says:
To be clear i am not opposed to something that will avoid closing the promenade. But expanding this into the big dig of Brooklyn will crowd out other necessary projects. The regional planning association number 1 project is the cross harbor freight tunnel..estimated cost is about 14 billion. The nynjpa authority had 4 billion set aside until governor Christy used it to rebuild kosciosko between Jersey city and the Newark airport..there are 4 subway tracks under 4th ave..that move a lot of people everyday.
Sept. 30, 2018, 5:46 pm
Tony from Carroll Gardens says:
Build a tunnel from starting somewhere between Union St and Atlantic Ave (Where its already in a trench) to Tillary St. Build the grades steep to avoid the 5 subway tunnels that are in the area
Oct. 1, 2018, 3:28 am
Judi Francis from Cobble Hill says:
Hi Tony, There really are too many problems with all the subway tunnels, water mains and dense, fragile historic housing for your idea to be feasible -sadly. A super steep grade to make it work would not work for trucks, we were told early in the vetting process when the State was running their Community Advisory Council from 2006 to 2010 and your idea was studied. The 4th Ave tunnel - along with avoiding the problems of other tunnels, bores through rock (which the boring equipment is made to do) and the good news is that that rock protects the buildings above - they would not have to be underpinned (extraordinarily expensive and dangerous proposition). That also knocked out several other tunnel schemes like those that tunnel under parts of the Heights. So while a worthwhile idea, it was not feasible for these reasons, I recall. But the Cross Brooklyn Tunnel does one thing no other idea has to date: Leaves Brooklyn better off in the end and not just with a repair or replacement of the triple cantilevered roadbed. That is kinda key as we contemplate more 80 story towers going up in the downtown area. Yes, we need schools and parks for these new residents of our new super talls - also sorely lacking - but we also need roadways for food and other deliveries, and we need to hasten the traffic through our residential communities in multiple ways for the good of our neighbors, too.
Oct. 1, 2018, 8:54 am
Former Resident from Fulton Ferry Landing says:
WHy not invite Elon Musk's BORING Company to quote the BQE Tunnel? He needs to cover that $40 million fine somehow.
Oct. 1, 2018, 9:01 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Making the BQE into a tunnel is both unrealistic and expensive. This is very reason why the attempt to build the Westway to replace the Miller Highway on Manhattan's west side didn't happen, plus it was found to be an environmental disaster. Speaking of the Big Dig, not too long after it opened, it actually sprung leaks forcing all the traffic using it to relocate until that problem was fixed, which shows what can happen when you either cut corners and/or try to be cheap on its construction, which I fear the same can happen if that is to be done. Unfortunately, the traffic has to be relocated to somewhere until the highway construction is done, so alternative routes will be needed whether anyone likes them or not.
Oct. 1, 2018, 2:01 pm
Frank from Furter says:
all of Long Island which Brooklyn is a part of is an out wash of a terminal moraine(during the last ice age there was a glacier here). so the "bed rock" is deep down. I believe that when they were building the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan tower caisson did reach bedrock but the Brooklyn one never did. They stopped when it was so deep because the crew digging it was ill.
Oct. 1, 2018, 5:55 pm
Happily Retired in Arizona from Former Carroll Gardens Resident says:
When I worked at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Coalition in the mid-1990s, Tony Manheim and I met with the State DOT in Long Island City to discuss a plan that to fix the Promenade section of the BQE. I don't remember the details of the project, but the EIS report is below: Federal Register/Vol. 74, No. 74/Monday, April 20, 2009/Notices BQE extends from Atlantic Avenue to ... reconstruction of the existing facility ... Point Plaza, 47–40 21st Street, Long. Island City, New York 11101,. Telephone: ... Transportation (NYSDOT), will prepare ...Promenade, a key community resource. One of the BBPC Board members, Allen Swerdlowe, had proposed a tunnel in the late 90s at the same time a coalition of neighborhood associations, the Gowanus Expressway Community Coalition, headed by Jo Anne Simon, (who is now the Assemblymember), was proposing a tunnel as an alternative to reconstructing the Gowanus section of the BQE. State nixes BQE fixes • Brooklyn Paper Nov 30, 2011 - ... much funding they may or may not have,” said architect Allen Swerdlow. ... The rapidly degrading roadway abuts Brooklyn Bridge Park and ... On Tuesday, state and federal transportation officials terminated the first phase of the roughly $254-million project — effectively killing the overdue reconstruction of the 1.5-mile, triple-cantilevered stretch under Brooklyn Heights and its fabled Promenade. The downtown Brooklyn neighborhoods also had two local transportation consultants - Brian and Carolyn Ketchum, who were also warning about the need to do something about the deteriorating Promenade section. A committee of the Brooklyn Hts Association was also concerned by the lack of State action on the matter. So here we are 25 years later, and it has become a City DOT problem, and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corp chose to ignore the problem, and built the park knowing that the promenade had to be rebuilt and would need an alternative route, and the State DOT dropped the ball and kicked it to the City. I think the State DOT who dropped the ball, and the BBP Corp who ignored the problem, should be held accountable for malfeasance.
Oct. 7, 2018, 12:38 am
Helen S. from Bklyn Hts says:
DOT in community meetings did not oppose 4th Ave tunnel because of subways or costs. Rather that tunnels only accommodate 4 lanes. They were too myopic to see that we could tunnel four lanes ‘express’ and then have time and room to repair cantilever for additional four lanes - maybe ‘cars only’? Biggest issue is two years of DOT community meetings and promises to protect BH and Promenade -and suddenly we are betrayed with this 6 lane highway to blight the neighborhood. The bad faith is just crushing!
Oct. 19, 2018, 2:18 pm

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