In addition to meeting with DOT on November 19, 2018 to present our alternate concept, the BHA followed up with a letter on January 7, 2019, asking DOT Commissioner Trottenberg DOT to halt its planning for the Promenade Highway and to seek outside, independent experts.
On April 3rd, 2019, on the very same day we gathered the community in a massive Town Hall at Plymouth Church, the Mayor responded by announcing the formation of an expert panel. By the end of June 2019 the panel publicly announced the DOT’s original plan for a 6-lane Promenade Highway had little to no chance of being approved.
As DOT has been reaching out to Tier 1 and Tier 2 buildings (the buildings closest to the BQE which will be most impacted), the Brooklyn Heights Association, along with our ally A Better Way, has been meeting with building owners and advising them on the strategies to adopt and the questions to ask when their meetings are scheduled.
The BHA worked with Marc Wouters Studios to develop an alternative concept to DOT’s plan, and retained engineering consultants to evaluate our alternatives and assess ways to reduce traffic on the BQE during the construction period.
In addition, the BHA has convened a Task Force composed of over a dozen experts in related fields (from legal and marketing to engineering and traffic consultants) who meet twice a month to devise new solutions for the BQE, and strategies for reaching our goals (DO WE WANT TO LIST PEOPLE AND TITLES?)
The outcome of the mid-term elections and the leadership change in the State Senate paved the way for passage of a long-delayed congestion pricing plan that would place tolls on the East River crossings. The BHA has been advocating for this measure, which would reduce traffic on the BQE, making alternative construction approaches more feasible and mitigating their environmental impacts. In late March 2019, congestion pricing passed as part of the fiscal year 2020 State budget.
The BHA has also been advocating with our elected officials at the Federal level to re-instate two way tolling on the Verrazzano Bridge. Studies have shown this will decrease congestion ad increase revenue. Since the toll would be split in half this would not raise costs for commuters, but it would discourage truckers from making a detour through Staten Island and the BQE to avoid tolling. We are happy to announce that in early June, split tolling on the Verrazzano Bridge passed House Committee and is on its way to becoming law!
As we all know, the Promenade is a draw for all New Yorkers, not just those in our neighborhood. The traffic congestion resulting from the BQE Project will affect everyone. To ensure that all stakeholders are supportive of our objectives, the BHA is consulting with our sister neighborhood associations to solicit their input and keep them fully informed of our efforts.
This policy has born fruit. On February 5, New York Landmarks Conservancy and six other preservationist and civics groups, representing approximately 40,000 members and supporters sent this letter to DOT.
On June 27, The Brooklyn Heights Association, the Cobble Hill Association and A Better Way published a joint statement and send it to Members of the Mayor’s Expert Panel, elected officials and Community Boards 2 and 6.
Working with our ally A Better Way, the BHA has file X number of FOIL requests (Freedom of Information Law). (NEED MORE DETAILS HERE)
Throughout this process, the BHA has been continually updating the community on our progress through our member newsletters, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We organized a massive Town Hall on April 3, co-sponsored with A Better Way. At this meeting we got our elected officials to come out on the record against the Promenade Highway, and we presented several alternative plans which proved that the community did not have to choose between the two terrible options DOT presented to the community in September.
With your support and engagement, we can do better than that.