The BQX is a proposed streetcar that will connect a dozen neighborhoods along an 11-mile corridor from Red Hook, Brooklyn to Astoria, Queens. According to NYCEDC, the BQX would connect 400,000 New Yorkers who live along the proposed 11-mile route with 13 subway lines, 30+ bus routes, nine NYC ferry landings, and 100+ Citi Bike stations. The electric streetcar would benefit from as much as 90% dedicated lanes and ADA-accessible boarding, with an average of 5-10-minute wait time during the busiest times of the day. The City currently estimates the cost of the project to be $2.7 billion, with a goal of 50% federal funding and the remainder coming from a “land value-capture” model, essentially, a rise in real estate values of areas surrounding the path of the BQX and associated property taxes collected.
In January 2020 the city unveiled a new website and timeline to promote the project and launched a series of public meetings for interested citizens. The first BQX workshop was scheduled for February 6th in Downtown Brooklyn. A full list of BQX public events can be found here, and you can read the Daily Eagle’s write-up of the first workshop here.
The proposed schedule for the project is for the release of a Public Scoping Document to guide the environmental review in April, followed by a Public Hearing in May. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement is to be released in the Spring of 2021 (with additional Public Hearings) followed by completion in Fall of 2021. Construction is not expected to begin before 2023.
The BHA recognizes the real need to invest in improved public transportation in NYC, especially in neighborhoods where transit options are limited. However, at this time we are not convinced that the BQX is the best solution to this problem for several reasons.
At the present time, the proposed route of the BQX would run from Columbia Street to Atlantic Avenue, along Atlantic Avenue to Court Street, then north on Court Street and east on Joralemon Street. This alignment presents several potential impacts to traffic in the area of Brooklyn Heights; the BHA urges the City to include a comprehensive traffic study as part of the mandated environmental review.
Of additional concern is the extent of construction adjacent to the BQX alignment. The required reconstruction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the residential development at the LICH site, the planned construction of the Brooklyn Jail, and the proposed development of the Red Hook and the Columbia Street waterfront could create conflicts for construction staging sites, delivery of supplies, and demands for street space to accommodate shifted traffic. The City must develop a construction plan that adequately addresses the issue of coordination with all other projects, both planned and underway.
The BHA hosted a panel discussion with transportation planning experts about the BQX project at our 2017 Annual Meeting. The panel discussed the potential pros and cons of the BQX as it was proposed at the time.