The BQE Needs YOU!

The BQE along Meeker Avenue by Union Avenue.  One of the more challenging crossings for all.  Outreach for improving the BQE also addresses streets around the BQE.  Let your voice be heard  Photo credit: Lori Ann Doyon

Community will be asked to offer ideas for this roadway and area streets.

All who live near, walk by, drive on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) are well aware of its wear and tear.  In February 2020,  the NYC Council published the report, “The Future of the BQE” , which can be viewed here:

BQE North runs from Sands Street to the Kosciusko Bridge. photo credit BQE Corridor Vision Survey

“The goal of the report is to synthesize the information we have gathered about the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and chart a direction forward for both the stretch of the BQE that is in dire need of repair — the triple cantilever — and for the broader corridor. …The BQE is a critical arterial for moving freight and people across our region, but how can it better address and adapt to the needs of a 21st century New York?” stated then NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson in his intro to the report.

The BQE Corridor Vision outreach has come to North Brooklyn and is looking for community insight on ways to improve the BQE and its surroundings.  The BQE was built between 1937 and 1964 and is Brooklyn’s only interstate highway.  When it opened in 1954, this was two years before the creation of the Interstate Highway System.  Therefore, it was designed before there were interstate standards.  While many sections have since been reconstructed to newer standards, the triple cantilever remains essentially the same as it did when it opened. According to data from the NYC Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) 130K vehicles use the BQE each day. The triple cantilever was originally designed to accommodate 47,000 vehicles.

“No more kicking the can. We have once-in-a-generation access to federal infrastructure funds, and we will seize this opportunity to start rebuilding this vital transportation artery for a post-pandemic city and economy today,” stated Mayor Eric Adams.

One way the community can chime in is to take the NYC DOT’s online survey: The survey is open through February 17, 2023.

Southern view of the BQE from the South 3rd Street overpass photo credit: Lori Ann Doyon

Other opportunities for community members to offer suggestions will be through public meetings and workshops hosted by several local community-based organizations. North Brooklyn nonprofits: El Puente, United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, North Brooklyn Parks Alliance, Evergreen, and St Nicks Alliance will be conducting the outreach in the area.

Recommendations from the public can address a broad range of topics. For instance, the size of the highway?  Should it have a smaller footprint?  How to manage traffic?  Should there be alternative routes for freight?  How about a capped highway?  Page 38 of “The Future of the BQE” states, “the highway would stay at the level of the Cobble Hill trench and pass under Atlantic Avenue. It would then rise to the grade of Furman Street and would be capped by an expansion of Brooklyn Bridge Park. Burying the highway is a best practice for dense urban environments, as has been shown in Boston, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Dallas.”  The public can also make suggestions for City-owned adjacent streets and adjacent areas.

A community meeting on ideas for the BQE North will be held on Thursday, February 16 from 6 p.m.–8 p.m. at 211 Ainslie Street, hosted by St. Nicks Alliance.

“Between now until February the North Brooklyn residents have the opportunity to express their ideas for short-term and long-term improvements to the BQE.  I want to encourage all North Brooklyn residents to participate and provide input on the future of the BQE, this highway affects the lives of North Brooklyn residents on so many levels, from traffic, noise, pollution, and safety,” said Rolando Guzman, deputy director of Community Preservation at St. Nicks Alliance.

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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