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Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

Brooklyn Pols Demand the State ‘Come to the Table’ on the BQE

1:00 PM EST on February 10, 2023

The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway cuts through neighborhoods including Sunset Park, shown above. Photo: Julianne Cuba

More than a dozen Brooklyn lawmakers said they don't want DOT's Brooklyn-Queens Expressway plan: It's highway or the highway.

The Hochul administration must “come to the table” to address the harm the noxious scar of a highway has caused in every community though which it passes — and not just the city-owned section under tony Brooklyn Heights, a pack of borough elected officials wrote to DOT officials in response to a Streetsblog story this week about the state's lack of a plan for the rest of the roadway.

“We ask that the NYS DOT remember the daily harms caused by the BQE in its current state — not just the crumbling cantilever section — and join us at the table in search of a solution,” the 18 members of Congress, the State Legislature and the City Council wrote.

State DOT has “no plans” to “redesign the state-owned portion of the BQE" and is only providing “technical assistance” to city DOT as it studies the replacing the 1.5-mile stretch between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street, including the 0.4-mile triple cantilever section.

The Hochul administration's refusal to come to the table so far has left the local pols worried the state will neglect their parts of the corridor as attention focuses on the city-owned stretch of the Robert Moses-era highway.

“The neighborhoods from Bay Ridge to Greenpoint have suffered from the social, health, and economic impacts of the BQE for decades: with the climate crisis upon us, we do not have decades more to wait," the elected officials said in their letter.

Signatories included Reps. Nydia Velázquez and Dan Goldman, Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, state Sens. Jabari Brisport, Julia Salazar, Kristen Gonzalez, Andrew Gounardes, Assembly Members Bobby Carroll, Maritza Davila, Phara Souffrant Forrest, Emily Gallagher, Jo Anne Simon, Marcela Mitaynes, and Council Members Alexa Avilés, Shahana Hanif, Crystal Hudson, Jennifer Gutiérrez, and Lincoln Restler. The group comprises electeds up and down the BQE sluice through Brooklyn.

Nothing “corridor-wide” on the highway can happen without state DOT, according to city officials. With state DOT missing-in-action, the city is soliciting opinions "from people who live, work, or visit” about how to re-envision the entire BQE in Brooklyn.

As a result, the city’s "corridor-wide" work is limited to the streets it owns around the highway, city DOT spokesman Vin Barone said on Wednesday.

“As the Adams administration pursues a long-term fix for BQE Central, including the triple cantilever, we are committed to prioritizing equity, and that means bringing improvements to the entire corridor through Brooklyn,” Barone said. "We hope to work closely with our state partners as we are with communities in the North and South to plan and deliver these improvements.”

A rep for state DOT reiterated in a statement to Streetsblog its commitment to helping the city with its environmental assessment for the triple cantilever project, but that there are no "immediate structural or safety concerns" on the state-owned portions of the highway.

"The New York State Department of Transportation is committed to the safety of the travelling public on the entirety of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, a critical transportation artery for the region, which is why we are providing technical assistance to the City in its project to replace the Triple Cantilever. This portion has been identified as requiring immediate action to address structural conditions, and the Department will continue to assist in the preparation and advancement of the environmental review process and will support the City’s application for federal funding," said Joseph Morrissey.

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