The BHA met Monday morning with DOT Commissioner Trottenberg, the project’s engineers and other DOT officials, as well as with Councilmember Levin, Senator Kavanagh, and Assemblymember Simon and their representatives, and a representative of Borough President Eric Adams, for a two hour discussion concerning the BQE Project.
The BHA requested the meeting to accomplish several objectives:
- To challenge the three assumptions on which DOT based its plan for a 6-lane “Promenade” highway, which involve staying within the city’s right-of-way; accommodating the same level of traffic as present; and limiting the project’s planning to only that which is under the City’s control.
- To ask our local City and State elected officials how we can work with them to achieve a better solution through a range of actions by the State and other government agencies.
- To discuss the imperative of creative techniques to reduce the level of traffic that would otherwise be using the BQE Atlantic-to-Sands corridor during the construction period; and
- To discuss alternatives to the Promenade Highway, including a concept first conceived by Marc Wouters Studios, a Heights-based architect-urban planning firm with which the BHA has been working. That concept would move traffic to a temporary 2-level structure west of the existing triple cantilever instead of DOT’s 6-lane highway on the Promenade. The concept would impact the Park’s berms to some extent but would not affect the Park’s useable space, and would involve noise protection features so that the area now occupied by the berms could become useable parkland post-construction.
In addition to avoiding the terrible impacts of DOT’s Promenade Highway on numerous residential buildings along Columbia Heights, as well as on 360 Furman, the concept offers other advantages, such as various construction techniques that could accelerate the project’s completion. No solution is likely to be perfect, however, and this concept would entail more temporary lane closures at certain locations than DOT’s preferred plan, making traffic management techniques an important part of this alternative approach. The BHA advanced this proposal to illustrate solutions that could be achieved if DOT could work with other government agencies to alleviate the narrow
constraints it has imposed upon itself.
There were several outcomes of the meeting:
- Commissioner Trottenberg agreed to have DOT engineers assess the alternative concept in the coming weeks, though she provided no specific timeframe.
- Senator Kavanagh and Assemblymember Simon agreed to work together to initiate a conversation with the Governor’s Office and State transportation agencies to determine the State’s willingness to assist the City with implementing better approaches to the project, including measures to better manage traffic on the BQE.
- For its part, the BHA will engage with the community to promote better cooperation by DOT with the State and other government agencies that will be necessary to bring the best possible plan for the BQE to fruition.
On Monday afternoon, the BHA, in conjunction with representatives of A Better Way NYC, met with a roster of major New York civic and preservation organizations to enlist their support in opposing the Promenade Highway. The representatives of these organizations voiced a strong concern for the highway’s impact on the Promenade and the metropolitan community, and offered both valuable ideas on how they can contribute to opposing the DOT plan as well as their support of our efforts to move DOT to adopt a better solution.