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City considering new option for BQE repair that would largely spare Promenade

Swap grass for asphalt: The Brooklyn Heights Association wants the city to move traffic from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway to a new temporary two-level highway outside of Brooklyn Bridge Park along its hilly mounds during reconstruction of the highway’s crumbling triple cantilever.
Brooklyn Paper
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Talk about an alternative route!

City officials are considering a new scheme for their looming fix to the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway’s triple cantilever. The plan proposes creating a temporary roadway near Brooklyn Bridge Park for expressway traffic during the repairs, instead of sending those cars and trucks on a speedway that would replace the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for much of the years-long fix.

“We are examining a range of options that aim to minimize the traffic disruption and effects on surrounding communities,” said City Hall spokesman Seth Stein. “We are moving through the process and will continue engaging with the community.”

Department of Transportation bigwigs at a Nov. 19 meeting with pols, including Brooklyn Heights Councilman Stephen Levin, Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, and state Sen. Brian Kavanagh, promised to explore the proposal, which leaders of civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association tapped an urban planner to create as an alternative to the city’s two previously floated options for the job that could start as soon as 2020 — six years before experts say the 70-year-old, three-tiered stretch of expressway may start to collapse under the weight of the thousands of trucks that travel it daily.

Those options include the so-called traditional approach — in which the triple cantilever would be reconstructed lane-by-lane through 2029, causing backups that the city said could stretch for up to 12 miles — and the so-called innovative approach, which many officials including Mayor DeBlasio prefer, and would replace the historic walkway atop the triple cantilever with a six-lane road feet from locals’ windows for no less than six years as workers toil to shore up the infrastructure by 2026.

Both city options come with price tags north of $3 billion, almost twice as much as what agency leaders originally predicted. And the traditional approach still requires closing the Promenade atop the cantilever, but likely only for up to two years, according to officials.

The Heights Association’s chosen architect, Marc Wouters, proposed a third way, however. He called for creating a temporary two-level structure for expressway traffic closer to the Furman Street border of Brooklyn Bridge Park, featuring one level with three lanes for Bay Ridge–bound vehicles, and the second with three lanes headed towards Queens, according to the civic group’s head, who noted the proposed structures’ lanes are equal in number to those officials suggested laying down on the Promenade.

“The concept would be for three lanes both eastbound and westbound, which is equivalent to the capacity in the DOT plan,” said Peter Bray.

Such a roadway — which Levin and other locals suggested during the city’s first public hearing on the massive project back in September — would not prevent locals from using the waterfront lawn, Bray said. Rather, it would likely sit near, or on, the noise-cancelling berms park leaders recently built along Furman Street to muffle the sound of passing traffic in the green space.

“The concept would impact the Park’s berms to some extent but would not affect the Park’s useable space,” he said.

Wouters’s plan — which did not come with a price tag, or a timeline, although Bray said it would allow the job to finish faster than both city options — would also still require closing the Promenade for some time, according to the civic leader, as the walkway is part of the triple cantilever being repaired.

And although Transportation Department chief Polly Trottenberg assured Bray’s group that her team would go back to the drawing board and pore over the new proposal following its presentation, she did not say when the city will announce which route it will take to repair the 1.5-mile stretch of expressway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street, he said.

“She promised her staff would evaluate it to see whether they found any flaws in the concept that would preclude it as a possibility,” he said. “There was no conclusion reached at the meeting, and they promised they would get back at to us at some point in the near future.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 9:55 am, November 28, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Grammer police from Park Slope says:
Apparently, there is a shortage of periods at the Brooklyn Paper as a couple of run-on/unreadable sentences fill this piece.
Nov. 28, 9:43 am
Former Resident from Fulton Ferry Landing says:
Way to throw resident of the Fulton Ferry Landing, Pier 1 area under the Heights bus! Just as was done in the 1990s BQE resurfacing. Shows consistency, if not shared pain.
Nov. 28, 9:43 am
Bike from NYC says:
Keep fighting this residents, eventually the powers that be will give up and tear this monstrosity down. Now is our chance to spare the next generation from the pollution these selfish fat ass drivers inflict upon us.
Nov. 28, 10:05 am
freddy from slope says:
cue sleazy back door money development grab for inconvenience by brooklyn bridge park types in 3 .... 2 .... 1 ....
Nov. 28, 10:28 am
Tunnel from Brooklyn says:
Tunneling is the only correct way to do this. Anything less is short sighted. While there may be things in the way, those things can be moved. Yes, even a train line can be moved. We are talking about our #1 city in the country, and it should get the #1 solution - a tunnel. All the traffic and noise underground. All the pollution filtered & cleaned. The tunnel would start from the existing sub-grade ditch south of Atlantic thereby allowing the covering of the ditch and eliminating that monster overpass at Atlantic Ave. The tunnel would have direct tubes connecting to the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and would exit north of Brooklyn Heights to reconnect to the BQE. And what's left is the cantilever that can be turned into a multi-level River Walk with shops, cafes and the like, turning what was an abortion into one of NYC's most beautiful assets.
Nov. 28, 10:40 am
Bike from NYC says:
Instead of spending trillions on a tunnel, just get rid of the cars. Boom, problem solved.
Nov. 28, 10:46 am
Brian Howald from Brooklyn Heights says:
Only ~14,200 of the ~163,000 vehicles (~8.7%) that use this section of the BQE on a weekday are trucks. Most of the vehicles on this stretch of the BQE (and all city roads) are private vehicles. Commercial traffic, emergency vehicles, and those who drive for necessity are being delayed by those who drive merely because it is cheap and convenient. Our city is possibly on the verge of congestion pricing, which would greatly decrease traffic bound for the city, particularly that currently using the free East River bridges instead of the Battery Tunnel. Why are we going to rebuild a six-lane highway eight years from now, when much of the traffic it serves may not exist in a year or two? The L train carries as many riders in a morning as the BQE handles vehicles in a day. If our traffic network can handle the L Train Shutdown with substitute bus service, beefed up train service on nearby lines, and streets redesigned to shifted handle bus and bike traffic, certainly it can handle all of the non-truck traffic on the BQE, let alone that which remains after congestion pricing. A two-lane highway could easily serve the buses, trucks, and emergency vehicles currently on the BQE. Let's build a temporary road for that traffic, beef up bus service from Southern Brooklyn, install bus lanes where needed, and see if we really need a BQE after all.
Nov. 28, 2:16 pm
Mathematician from Brooklyn says:
Empty shops all over Brooklyn and "Tunnel" up there wants to build more!
Nov. 28, 2:24 pm
Peter from Park Slope says:
There is already some part of a tunnel built! Along Atlantic Avenue from Hicks to Court street: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/atlantic-avenue-tunnel This could be repurposed & extended leaving the park and promenade free for people to enjoy and not cars. Of course this would require DOT to be able to build tunnels in /13 the time it takes the MTA to do the same.
Nov. 28, 3:03 pm
Andrew Porter from Brooklyn Heights says:
Peter from Park Slope, I've been in that tunnel—back when Bob Diamond ran tours, before the city shut them down—and you can get maybe one or two cars in there side to side. And there's no room for trucks. Nice idea, but alas not practical.
Nov. 28, 3:06 pm
Brooklyn Bobby from Not Brooklyn Heights says:
Views are going to be amazing while I’m driving to work on the promenade. I despise littering but may pick up the habit and make sure to toss my trash out my window as I drive by. Hopefully the temp road ends up being permanent. To all you Brooklyn Heights activists blowing a gasket over this, you deserve worse. No way these repairs can be done another way without significantly impacting other neighborhoods. Not like you care as that’s the Brooklyn Heights way.
Nov. 28, 7:13 pm
Brian from Brooklyn Heights says:
Tunnels projects are very common in European cities, leading to cleaner, quieter, more livable neighborhoods. Why should we not aspire to what other developed countries have? NYC is a wealthy world capital, and soon to be much wealthier when the Amazon tax base arrives. That being said, the 6-lane expressway on the Promenade is like a throwback to Robert Moses era planning projects, where neighborhoods are necessary casualties of the almighty cars and trucks. And don't believe for a minute that it may not end up being permanent.
Nov. 28, 10:41 pm
Ms. Me from Bay Ridge says:
I favor a tunnel >>>> under 3rd Avenue!!! Bury the Gowanus,BQE,whatever it's called. Nice straight line, no subway to be relocated (hahaha,so easy and inexpensive.) Poor and working class people need nice surroundings and clean air too.
Nov. 28, 11:02 pm
Sparkle from Bay Ridge says:
I agree with Brian Howald. He and I think alike. We don’t need a BQE, or any highways at all. We can replace trucks, even big ones, with large bicycles with trike carry attachments or pull sleds. We can use pack animals, which will be treated humanely and will eat the grass by the sides of the cart path that will replace the BQE. In winter we can use dog sledges. This can be done. And anyone who doesn’t agree with me and Brian Howald should be shouted down and humiliated publicly.
Nov. 29, 10:15 am
Bike from NYC says:
Those of us that are not obese and lazy will have no issues using cargo bikes for everything we need. The rest of you can move to car country.
Nov. 29, 12:40 pm
Friend of Sparkle from Bay Ridge says:
Even Whole Foods and Trader Joe's can get their deliveries by cargo bike. Brilliant!
Nov. 29, 1:18 pm
Bike from NYC says:
Who mentioned banning delivery trucks? Without private cars littering the streets, trucks will no longer need to block bike lanes to make deliveries. All those parking spaces magically become loading zones. There will also be plenty of room for protected bike lanes on every street, and there will be the trillions of dollars you save not rebuilding the BQE or boring tunnels to make this happen.
Nov. 29, 1:51 pm
Sparkle from Bay Ridge says:
I hope we can ban all cars from the streets. NY would be a much better place without cars. But I want no trucks too. None. So many people are in support of cargo bikes. Anything can be moved with a big enough cargo bike. Even a house.
Nov. 29, 2:41 pm
Friend of Sparkle from Bay Ridge says:
Who the hell are you to tell people to move out of the city because you want to ride around on a bicycle like a child and/or are too cheap to pay for the subway or a bus? At least cars are visible,unlike 50% of the bicycles -- black clad riders, lightless and reflectionless equipment.
Nov. 29, 2:42 pm
Bike from NYC says:
Who the hell are you to poison our air, give our children asthma, kill people when they get in your way, and destroy our planet? Take your death machine and drive it to some ——hole cul de sac in the middle of nowhere.
Nov. 29, 3:12 pm
Friend of Sparkle from Bay Ridge says:
Sorry to disappoint you but I don't own a car and never have. I do have a Metrocard. Try it you immature cheapo.
Nov. 29, 3:31 pm
Bike from NYC says:
That’s great, when did I mention cutting public transportation? Stop building straw men and unite against our common enemy, overweight sociopaths that insist on driving private automobiles and ruining our quality of life.
Nov. 29, 3:57 pm
Sparkle from Bay Ridge says:
I will scream “Fatty, Fatty, Fatty, Fatty, Fatty” at every car I see. Over and over and over again. Until my ears bleed and people run from me. That is what I will do.
Nov. 29, 4:11 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Just be lucky that the latest plan to fix the BQE won't involve having vehicular traffic on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. What I can't understand is all this anti-car statements. Unfortunately, the BQE is a necessity and getting rid of it will mean that a lot of commercial traffic will have to use local streets. If you think that traffic is bad now, without the BQE, it will be much worse. The fact that it's a long highway for two boroughs is the reason why it shouldn't be torn down. Also, making it into a tunnel isn't cost effective not to mention will take a long time to do as well as even have environmental concerns, which is why the Westway wasn't done. It might be great that you don't need to use the BQE especially due to not having to drive, but there are many others that do need it to get around. More importantly, a car free society is more of a fantasy than reality especially since all motor vehicles will have to go somewhere even if it's not in a particular place. On a side note, not all motorists are obese, but that's that anti-car fanatics for you.
Nov. 30, 3:31 pm
Bike from NYC says:
All the motor vehicles can go to Pleasantville. And there they can stay.
Nov. 30, 6:51 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Sorry Bike, but not everyone has the luxury of getting around without a motor vehicle like you do, and the BQE isn't going away anytime soon despite how much you despise it.
Dec. 1, 3:23 pm
Blogger Bill from from Boerum Hill says:
Fine analysis from Brian Howald, above. I keep asking why tunneling is considered off-limits when even the NYCDOT analysis says it is feasible. So it costs a little more today, won't have to be replaced 75 years. The new proposal to reroute heavy traffic to Furman Street is, IMO, a non-starter--no matter how well meaning. Let's ask DOT for a town hall exploring only the tunnel alternative. [Agree heavily with Tunnel from Brooklyn comment, also above].
Dec. 2, 12:06 pm

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