Eighteen months after his expert panel submitted recommendations, and four weeks after we published an op-ed in the NY Daily News, Mayor de Blasio has announced plans for the short-term repair of the Triple Cantilever. The proposed measures will maintain the structure long enough to allow for the development of a long-term vision for the future of the entire corridor.
DOT’s plans for the shoring up of the cantilever include implementation of measures to stop water infiltration and slow down corrosion, reduce the lanes from six to four, expand monitoring of the structure’s health, and install weigh-in-motion technology to reduce overweight trucks on the structure (pending final approval from the Governor). These measures will extend the life of the structure for 20 years.
At the same time, the city has committed to a comprehensive community engagement and planning process that will re-imagine the BQE corridor in its entirety and develop a long-term vision. The city will also focus on new ways to move freight, reducing the use of trucking and turning instead to water and rail options.
The BQET Coalition has responded with cautious optimism to this news.
We recognize that significant progress has been made since DOT’s 2018 Promenade Highway was the agency’s idea of an “innovative” solution, while also understanding that we have a long road ahead (no pun intended) to continue to build our coalition, hold the city accountable to its promises of meaningful community engagement, and to develop a true community-based and transformative plan for the future of the cantilever and the BQE.
Here is our statement:
“Across the nation, the destructive effects of urban highways are being recognized and addressed. The transformation of the BQE, one of New York City’s most decrepit and polluting transportation corridors, is of critical importance to the future of our city. The Coalition for the BQE Transformation (BQET) applauds the immediate measures which DOT is taking to ensure the safety of the Triple Cantilever because this plan buys New Yorkers time to develop a truly visionary solution to what has been a political hot potato for more than twenty years. But the planning to reverse the negative environmental, economic, and public health impacts of the BQE must begin now, and we will hold the city to its commitment to move forward immediately with structured and substantive engagement with all the communities along the BQE corridor. The BQET looks forward to working closely with DOT during this interim repair process to accommodate a host of near-term pollution, environmental, safety, and connectivity improvements. Today’s announcement is an important step in the right direction.”
We strongly believe it was community involvement and engagement that got us where we are today — what started as a rejection of the Promenade Highway plan then led to the formation of the expert panel that made many of the recommendations the Mayor has finally agreed to – for example, reducing lanes and traffic, finding alternative means of transporting cargo, and reimagining the entire BQE corridor with an eye towards reuniting neighborhoods and improving public health.