It appears they’ve hit a roadblock.
City transit leaders are back to square one with their looming project to repair the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway’s crumbling triple cantilever, according to the head of a local community board, who told members of his panel that officials claimed to lack a path forward for the job after months of debate over the current options on the table.
“What was clearly said is, ‘We don’t have a plan right now, we clearly don’t have a plan right now. And so what we’re trying to do is figure out what is the right plan,’ ” Community Board 2 Chairman Lenny Singletary said of Department of Transportation leaders at a March 13 meeting.
Singletary relayed the status report following a closed-door gathering Transportation Department brass hosted at their Manhattan headquarters with him and other leaders of community boards 2 and 6 on March 11, where the agency’s Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, its Brooklyn Borough Commissioner Keith Bray, and nearly a dozen employees discussed the project for almost two hours with the chosen group of attendees, who included reps for local, state, and federal pols.
The CB2 civic guru described the session as a “positive, collaborative conversation,” in which the transit leaders admitted they moved away from the agency’s two initial plans proposed last fall — which would either turn the Brooklyn Heights Promenade into a six-lane speedway carrying cars and trucks for no less than six years in order to shore up the triple cantilever; or repair the three-tiered expressway lane-by-lane, a longer job that could cause traffic jams on some local streets for up to 12 miles — after residents demanded the city explore other options.
“What DOT shared with us is that they learned a lot of information from the first large meeting that took place. And from that meeting, they decided to, kind of, go back to the drawing board and they started from scratch,” Singletary said.
A Transportation Department spokeswoman confirmed the agency is weighing multiple proposals and will continue to seek public comment as it determines a final plan.
“We are undertaking a thorough review process that will look at a range of options for this critical transportation corridor, accompanied by substantial community and expert engagement,” said Alana Morales.
Options on the table include the city’s so-called “innovative” approach to turn the Promenade into a highway; its so-called “traditional” approach to repair the triple cantilever lane-by-lane; a third plan proposed by civic leaders with the Brooklyn Heights Association and local architect Marc Wouters, which calls for sending expressway traffic on a temporary, two-tiered roadway built on top of berms along the Furman Street border of Brooklyn Bridge Park instead of along the Promenade; and a fourth plan New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer submitted days after the private meeting with Transportation Department and local leaders.
Stringer’s plan also proposes repairing the 1.5-mile, three-tiered stretch of expressway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street lane by lane, eliminating the need to create any temporary highway, but only allowing trucks on the roadway during the reconstruction.
And after the cantilever’s middle and lower levels are repaired, the scheme calls for reopening only the lower level to truck traffic heading in both directions, and turning the middle level into an elevated, two-mile park that would run along the length of the triple cantilever and onto a newly built “deck” above the portion of expressway between Atlantic and Hamilton avenues.
Any proposals that transit honchos ultimately deem viable will be examined as part of the federal environmental review of the scheme required before construction, a study that Transportation Department bigwigs intend to kick off later this year, and could last as long as two years, according to a new website about the expressway repairs.
And agency leaders told Singletary and the other attendees of the recent secret meeting that they will be more transparent with the planning process going forward, but are still deciding on the best ways to relay information to locals, he said.
“They’re working through a more transparent and somewhat clearer presentation to make to the community. Next step would be finding out the right vehicle to communicate that to the community and that is a combination of several things, maybe it’s multiple meetings, maybe one larger meeting, they still haven’t figured that out yet,” Singletary said.
CB6 leaders could not be reached for comment by press time.