BQE Update 11/27/2018

Oct 26

Our community is united in its opposition to DOT’s plan for a 6-lane highway on the Promenade.

While the 75 year old BQE triple cantilever must be rebuilt, we MUST advocate for better temporary solutions.  The BHA is working with the community, planners, and engineers to develop a better solution and present it to DOT and to our City and State elected officials.

DOT Promises to Assess Alternative BQE Plan

The BHA met on November 19th 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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:

  1. Commissioner Trottenberg agreed to have DOT engineers assess the alternative concept in the coming weeks, though she provided no specific timeframe.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


Actions the BHA is taking

The BHA has retained engineering consultants to evaluate alternatives to DOT’s plan and assess ways to reduce traffic on the BQE during the construction period. Their expertise will greatly assist the BHA in showing DOT that viable alternatives exist and warrant its consideration.

The outcome of the mid-term elections and the leadership change in the State Senate could potentially pave the way for passage of a long-delayed congestion pricing plan that would place tolls on the East River crossings. This measure would reduce traffic on the BQE, making alternative construction approaches more feasible and mitigating their environmental impacts. With this new political opportunity, the BHA will advocate for the passage of this congestion pricing plan.

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 keep them fully informed of our efforts.

Links to DOT Presentation and other Related Stories Available Online

The NYCDOT presentation of construction options from the September 27, 2018 BQE Project Update Meeting is available on DOT’s project website.  The presentation includes narration and the complete videos of the proposed design options. You can also download their press packet.

According to DOT, due to the high attendance at the public meeting and the agency’s priority to field questions from the public, abbreviated versions of the videos were shown at the meeting.

News 12 aired this story on October 19.

You can view the original BHA statement here.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy has joined us in our effort to oppose the six lane highway on the Promenade.

What can you do to help?

Contact Mayor de Blasio and our other elected officials and tell them you oppose DOT’s current options and demand better alternatives:

Daniel Abramson, Office of the Mayor 
dabramson@cityhall.nyc.gov
(212) 788-7929

City Council Member Stephen Levin
slevin@council.nyc.gov
718-875-5200

NYS Senator Brian Kavanagh
Kavanagh@nysenate.gov
212-298-5565

NYS Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon
simonj@nyassembly.gov
718-246-4889

Let DOT know that the community deserves a better plan:

Joannene Kidder, Chief of Staff & Executive Director of Community Affairs
Division of Bridges
JKidder@dot.nyc.gov
212-839-6304

Help support the BHA’s efforts:

Donate online to: thebha.org/donate or send a check marked “BQE Fund” to BHA, 55 Pierrepont Street, 17D, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

Become a BHA member and strengthen the BHA’s advocacy in waging this fight against DOT’s plan. Tell your friends and neighbors to join the BHA and join the fight.

Volunteer to distribute our posters (to hang in windows or apartment building bulletin boards) or our buttons.  Call 718-858-9193

Pick up a poster to display in your window, or a button to wear at the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange, 55 Pierrepont St.

Sign the STP petition on Change.org