Trolley plan reveals potential street closures, new bridges

Berry interesting idea: A rendering imagines Berry Street in Williamsburg as a largely pedestrian- and trolley-only thoroughfare.
Parsons Brinckerhoff

The city revealed the routes it is considering for its planned Sunset Park-to-Queens streetcar system in a new report released on Nov. 1, including some streets that could have to go traffic-free to accommodate the $2.5-billion trolley and three potential new bridges.

Officials hope to make most of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector lanes “exclusive” so the trolley won’t have to battle with regular traffic, the report says, which means some of the proposed streets would be closed to vehicles to accommodate the line.

A rendering shows Berry Street in Williamsburg as a so-called “transitway,” open only to local traffic, pedestrians, and streetcars running in both directions.

Potential routes in Williamsburg
NYCEDC

Planners are considering building new bridges at 19th Street across the Gowanus Canal and at Manhattan Avenue or Franklin Street across the Newtown Creek, according to the report. City officials claim the $2.5-billion price-tag factors in new spans.

The plan outlines several options in each neighborhood and offers pros and cons for each thoroughfare — such as Downtown, where officials will have to choose between running the cars near busy, subway-connected Metrotech or into Dumbo, near Brooklyn Bridge Park and where many of the developers who came up with the idea for the streetcar system in the first place have properties.

There are still no details on where the train yard or yards will go — and the city may need a full city block to accommodate the system’s full 47-car fleet, according to a Crain’s report.

Potential routes Downtown
NYCEDC

Never one to shy away from a business opportunity, Red Hook dock owner John Quadrozzi has already offered up his Gowanus Bay Terminal as a potential site, though it would be far cheaper for the city to use land it already owns, such as at the Army Terminal in Sunset Park or the Navy Yard in Fort Greene.

The proposal comes after months of meetings with residents along the so-called Brooklyn-Queens Connector’s pathway, and officials will now begin meeting with community boards to discuss the specific routes and stops.

Locals at the workshops — including Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Sunset Park) — expressed fears that the new amenity will be a fast track to gentrification and skyrocketing house prices, and will be designed for rich yuppies and tourists rather than Brooklyn’s neediest residents.

Potential routes in Red Hook
NYCEDC

Many also demanded the city ensure there are free transfers to subways, buses, and ferries, which Mayor DeBlasio has said is his goal but still can’t guarantee.

The city plans on releasing a draft of the route in early 2017, followed by a public-approval process. Construction will begin in 2019, and actual system is slated to start running in 2024.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspivack@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Potential routes in Sunset Park
NYCEDC

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