View Full Version : Brooklyn Queens Expressway

January 6th, 2010, 02:52 AM
It’s trench warfare as city eyes quick BQE fix

By Stephen Brown

It may not end up looking like this fanciful design, but the fix for the
Brooklyn-Queens Expressway's notorious trench will likely include more greenery.



(http://wirednewyork.com/forum/#)The notorious trench portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway would be cleaned up and beautified under a less-than-ambitious proposal put forward by the city late last month.

City officials announced that they had hired a crack team of architects and urban planners to propose inexpensive improvements to the “ditch” — a bit of a comedown from loftier plans to build housing and parkland atop the submerged stretch of the BQE from Atlantic to Hamilton avenues.

But this time, the city thinks it can get it done, likely through green walkways along the ditch and new pedestrian bridges.

“The simplest improvements are ‘greening’ measures like trees that would clean up the area and improve it visually,” said Stephen Whitehouse, the lead landscape architect on the team.

Whitehouse also pointed out that measures to reduce noise are more complex. Or, more accurately, more expensive to do fully.

“We’ll look at ideas to diffuse the sound or bounce it away,” he said. “But I’d be surprised if we cover the BQE completely.”

Whitehouse added that the team would meet with the community in the spring, and prepare a full proposal within a year.

But the green plan is not the only idea on the table. Since the Economic Development Corporation is organizing the study, the mayor’s proposal to build housing atop the ditch is not completely dead — though in this economic climate, it doesn’t seem likely.

Long considered a noisy source of pollution — and an inconvenience to boot — the subterranean portion of the BQE features only four road crossings that connect Carroll Gardens from its western portion, now known as the Columbia Street Waterfront District.

The ditch, along with the nearby Gowanus Canal, stand as smelly scars from a less environmentally aware era.

The entire BQE also stands as one of Robert Moses’ most lasting legacies, with the ditch serving as a clear symbol of the social inequalities that were critical in determining how it was designed.

While the more wealthy residents of Brooklyn Heights successfully lobbied the city to divert the BQE along the waterfront, the poorer residents of Red Hook and Carroll Gardens ended up with an asphalt trench through their neighborhood.


http://curbed.com/archives/2010/01/05/brooklyns_bqe_ditch_to_become_jollier_green_giant. php

January 6th, 2010, 08:32 PM
To me it would be more useful to build over it. Otherwise just leave it.

June 16th, 2010, 05:52 AM
Highway robbery! State is mulling taking Heights homes for BQE repair

By Gary Buiso

The existing alignment stretches from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street.

One option could see the construction of a tunnel to take the place of the highway.

In this map, the BQE meets federal highway specifications--and it also tears through several blocks in Brooklyn Heights.

Classic brownstones and other homes in historic Brooklyn Heights may be demolished by the state as part of the long-overdue effort to shore up and modernize the aging Brooklyn–Queens Expressway, state officials revealed this week.

State transportation planners are currently considering several ways to implement a $300-million reconstruction project of the triple-canitlever portion of the BQE under the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, plus other portions between Sands Street and Atlantic Avenue — but one scenario calls for homes to be taken near Willow and Middagh streets to accommodate the wider highway.

Peter King, project manager with the Department of Transportation, called the possibility of an eminent domain taking unlikely, but confirmed that it is being considered.

“It is well-established that the public sector has the authority to acquire properties for public purposes,” he said. “It would be premature to rule out anything, and a violation of process to start discounting things,” he said.

That’s a problem for area residents like Beth Taubner, who lives in the shadow of the highway — and whose home would be one of those demolished.

“You feel like you’re going to feel safe in your home, and this is the last thing I thought I’d be thinking about,” she said. “This upsets me!”

Transportation officials said that they are preparing an environmental impact statement for the mega-project, and are merely mandated to look at many possible scenarios — from doing nothing to boring a tunnel under Brooklyn Heights.

The project is the first major rehabilitation of the roadway since its opening in 1954, and will seek to modernize the structure to meet the roadway realities it now faces — more than 145,000 cars and trucks rumbling along its surface each day.

The highway was designed to last 50 years — in an age when it handled far fewer vehicles, King said.

The roadway’s limitations — narrow lanes, inconsistent curves, lack of shoulders, short merge and weave distances — also makes it dangerous. From 2004 to 2007, a total of 674 accidents were reported between Tillary and Congress streets — a figure that is 10 times the statewide average.

King called it “irresponsible and unproductive” to speculate about property seizures at this time, especially considering that planners may end up sacrificing the state mandate for a truly modern, high-speed highway with shoulders and proper entrance ramps, and in so doing, spare adjacent properties.

As such, groups that are involved in the discussion were not alarmed by the threat of eminent domain.

“You just try to look at as many designs as possible,” said Jane McGroarty, president of the Brooklyn Heights Association. “If the state didn’t do its due diligence, then everyone would be angry.”

Rob Perris, the district manager of Community Board 2, said concerns about eminent domain are misplaced. “We are talking about a 10-year process and we’re in year one. It is conceivable that there could be alignments that result in property being taken, but from the standpoint of today that seems highly unlikely.”

The irony, of course, is that master builder Robert Moses created the existing triple cantilever underneath Brooklyn Heights after neighborhood activists defeated his initial plan for a highway right through the heart of the neighborhod.

“Robert Moses isn’t here now, and if a new Moses emerges, we have practice,” said Judy Stanton, the executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association. “We know what to do.”

But history shows that there are no guarantees, said Columbia Heights resident Rex Roberts.

When the highway was constructed, a row of Columbia Heights brownstones — including the home of Brooklyn bridge designer John Roebling — was razed.

And February House, a “bohemian utopia” on Middagh shared by the poet W.H Auden, composer Benjamin Britten and writer Carson McCullers, was also doomed by the BQE.
“These things do happen — although you don’t think it will happen to you,” he said. “Eminent domain was used to create the BQE, so I suppose it could be used to save the BQE.”

The work will raise truck clearances, widen lanes, and reinforce the corroding steel and concrete span. A final plan isn’t due until 2015, and work won’t begin until 2020.


June 16th, 2010, 10:28 PM
Big Dig 2: Electric Boondoggle.

June 22nd, 2010, 01:04 PM
I think they should bury the entire I-278. Lets face it , its a crumbling mess and it divides neighborhoods....

June 23rd, 2010, 05:48 PM
I don't know about the trench (which could be covered over), but the elevated Gowonus section, I'd tow out into the harbor and sink. Specifically I'd turn it toward the water where the BQE and the Belt split. I'd build a tunnel for it set into new landfill along the line of the rotting docks, then run the connection through the old grain elevator lot to connect it to the existing road near the Hamilton Ave exit.

On top of the landfill, I'd build a new container port, which would have the terminus of the rail tunnel Jerry Nadler has been taking about, connecting to the rail lines in Jersey.

June 23rd, 2010, 05:49 PM
I think they should bury the entire I-278 ... it divides neighborhoods....
That's what they did in Boston. They buried the highway and replaced it with greenery. It still divides neighborhoods.

August 26th, 2010, 05:55 AM
The BQE Sees Your High Line and Raises You a Highway Line!

August 25, 2010, by Joey



As Brooklyn grapples with how to make the BQE less soul destroying, we've seen some wacky proposals coming out of neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill on how to improve the highway. Here's one that state transportation officials are reportedly actually considering: a 2.5-mile-long tunnel underneath the brownstone 'hoods and Downtown Brooklyn, connecting the Prospect Expressway to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This feat of engineering was first proposed by a Cobble Hill resident with no experience whatsoever. Hey, it's not like this crap's complicated or anything!

Other tunnel configurations are being considered, and of course any tunnel talk is premature, but what would happen to the much-maligned BQE triple cantilever below the Brooklyn Heights Promenade? It could be turned into the "local" to the tunnel's "express," but one architect participating in the state-sponsored design workshops has a better idea: give it to the people! To frolic upon! "The High Line could certainly be a model," he says, but rusty old train tracks will always be more stylish than asphalt.

Pipe dream! State is considering long tunnel to bypass BQE (http://www.yournabe.com/articles/2010/08/24/brooklyn/courier-yn_brooklyn_front_page-all_bqetunnel_2010_08_27_bk.txt) [YourNabe]
BQE coverage (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/bqe) [Curbed]
Brooklyn Paper (http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/33/35/all_bqetunnel_2010_08_27_bk.html) story

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/08/25/the_bqe_sees_your_high_line_and_raises_you_a_highw ay_line.php#more

August 26th, 2010, 10:01 AM
They could cut that road under there -- and look!

It runs right under Ratner's Atlantic Yards -- Just cut a big entry into the tunnel there with ramps and tunnel exits using all his land.

Then Brooklyn could have its very own tunnel roundabout ala the Holland Tunnel.

Forget the housing, etc.

August 26th, 2010, 11:24 AM
I think the proposal would be a deep tunnel, not a cut-and-cover; but that would create as well as solve problems.

Interestingly, it was a civic-minded Cobble Hill resident with no engineering background — Roy Sloane — who came up with a link that he dubbed the “Cross-Downtown Brooklyn tunnel.” At its length, it would be a full mile longer than the Brooklyn–Battery Tunnel, which is currently the longest roadway tunnel in North America.

According to Sloane, the tunnel could serve as an express route to North Brooklyn, while the triple-cantilevered stretch of the BQE would become a “local” route that would funnel traffic to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges as well as local streets.

Still, there were some differences among proponents of the tunnel as to what should be done with the decaying stretch of the BQE.

“I don’t like that because it creates more capacity, and once you increase capacity drivers start using it and you create more problems,” said Swerdlowe, adding that he preferred a tunnel with exits to local streets and that the triple-cantilevered roadway could be converted into a recreation area of some sort.

“The High Line [in Manhattan] could certainly be a model,” he said.I agree with Swerdlowe. Sloan's proposal is really just adding express lanes that bypass the two bridges.

Anyway, I don't see where the money for this is coming from. Further south on I-278, there are already detailed models of tunnel replacements for the Gowanus Expressway. Running along the waterfront, it would be less disruptive and less expensive to build than a BQE tunnel. Even so, escalating costs (the Big Dig?) have put that project on hold, and they're considering a less costly elevated roadway replacement at the shoreline with several cable-stayed bridge towers.

August 26th, 2010, 03:40 PM
I really have to question that route, it looks more like a reporter misunderstood what was being proposed. I could be wrong though, but that route is just too crazy to be real.

September 24th, 2010, 08:28 PM
To Repair Aging B.Q.E., Tunnels Are on Table


Like many New Yorkers, the people of Brooklyn Heights have a love-hate relationship with the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

On the one hand, the highway is the bane of the neighborhood, carrying trucks whose startling rumbles often wake the sleeping, and spewing dust and fumes onto leafy streets named Cranberry, Pineapple and Willow. But it also props up the neighborhood’s most celebrated landmark — the Promenade, with its picturesque views of the Lower Manhattan skyline.

Whatever ambivalence people have, the highway is growing old and frail. After more than 55 years of grinding wear and tear, the mile-and-a-half elbow that curves around Brooklyn Heights must be overhauled. And so, the brownstone neighborhood — one of the city’s most genteel, but not its gentlest when it comes to political combat — is bristling with talk about how, exactly, that should be done without clogging traffic even more.

Much of the conversation has focused on tunnels, proposed at supersize lengths New Yorkers have not seen since the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel was opened in 1950. Three separate ideas for tunnels running parallel to the existing elevated roadway were put forward in June by the State Transportation Department.

The rationale for the project was to create a bypass while the B.Q.E. — notorious for its lack of shoulders, impossibly short merge lanes and low clearances — is almost completely rebuilt. A tunnel, though, would live on to relieve congestion on one of the city’s most heavily traveled routes, which now carries 140,000 vehicles a day. The latest state estimate puts the cost of the entire project at $254 million and predicts construction would begin in summer 2017.

A fourth tunnel idea that would skip Brooklyn Heights entirely has been put forward by a local graphic designer, Roy Sloane. He would bore an almost three-mile tube straight under the heart of Brooklyn, from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, below the streets of Fort Greene, Boerum Hill and Park Slope, to emerge at a spot near the southern end of Red Hook. Mr. Sloane presented the idea to state transportation officials at one of the brainstorming sessions they have scheduled every month for residents.

“Why not think big?” Mr. Sloane said. “Engineers tell me that the most elegant solution to any problem is a straight line.”

Given the difficulty of financing and completing environmental reviews for large projects like the Second Avenue subway line and the remade World Trade Center, the idea of a long tunnel sounds utopian, particularly in a listless economy. Nevertheless, Adam Levine, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, said the agency had asked its engineers to consider all the alternatives. The next meeting with residents and other stakeholders will be on Wednesday.

The opinions of activists in Brooklyn Heights often carry a substantial weight with officials. After all, the creation of the Promenade itself and the selection of a route that passed around, rather than through, the brownstone neighborhood, were among the concessions they extracted from the master highway builder Robert Moses before the highway opened in 1954.

Mr. Sloane, 60, who lives in Cobble Hill and was one of the early advocates for the park that has been rising along the Brooklyn waterfront, said a tunnel would allow trucks and cars that have no intention of visiting Downtown Brooklyn to steer clear of the neighborhood, saving gas and as much as half an hour in travel time. The elevated expressway would then be reinvented as a feeder route only for those who want to get off at Brooklyn Heights or other Downtown streets.

Any tunnel through Downtown Brooklyn would have to be dug deeper than the multitude of subway tunnels, cables and gas lines that already crisscross the area. Mr. Sloane pointed out there would also have to be enough space at the entrances to accommodate a gently angled slope. And a tunnel would also have to have mammoth ventilation structures, which could mean taking some land.

“I’m not an engineer, I’m an imagineer,” Mr. Sloane said whimsically.

Most of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which stretches from below the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge (formerly the Triborough) to the northern end of the Gowanus Expressway near Green-Wood Cemetery, has already been upgraded. But the portion through Brooklyn Heights presents a particular challenge. It contains a section, less than half a mile long, that is a triple-cantilever, an engineering marvel of reinforced concrete in which beams are supported at only one end. There are three westbound lanes on one level, three eastbound lanes above that and the Promenade atop them both.

Any satisfactory rehabilitation would have to wrestle with the B.Q.E.’s original sins — narrow lanes (10˝ feet compared with the 12-foot federal standard), short merges at the on-ramps that lead to periodic collisions, and clearances too low for recent generations of trucks. Taller trucks now have to leave the expressway and make their way through the neighborhood’s streets, creating a noisy, rattling irritant. And, of course, its lack of shoulders means the highway gets star billings on radio traffic reports.
“If one guy has a flat tire, 10,000 people are late to work,” is the way Mr. Sloane describes the problem.

At one point, the state, hoping to widen the highway, advanced the possibility of taking over some brownstones through eminent domain and tearing them down, but that notion is said to be off the table. On a stroll through the neighborhood, Jane Carroll McGroarty, an architect who is president of the Brooklyn Heights Association, pointed out the heritage that could be disrupted by insensitive highway plans, including homes where W. H. Auden, Thomas Wolfe, Carson McCullers and Arthur Miller lived, and the church whose preacher was abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

While wanting more details, the association seems more than open to the idea of a tunnel — to such an extent that all they would like kept of the current highway is the Promenade.

“We were saying do the tunnel and get rid of the B.Q.E. totally,” Ms. McGroarty said.


September 24th, 2010, 09:40 PM
none of this is ever going to happen, all levels of government are going completely broke

September 24th, 2010, 11:12 PM
1975 (http://davedubrow.com/.a/6a00e5502775dc88340120a63d8ac3970b-800wi) all over again?

November 16th, 2010, 06:38 AM
Proposals for BQE redesign:

http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/bqe_event_06-600x380.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/9561/bqe_event_06)

http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/bqe_event_02-600x379.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/9561/bqe_event_02)

http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/bqe_event_03-600x379.jpg (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/9561/bqe_event_03)


November 16th, 2010, 08:08 AM
The solar is a nice idea, but they say it is the most expensive AND the cost does not include maintainence.

Also, put that many nice flat shiny black surfaces out at street level and see how many get tagged once th eooft patrols stop watching them every night (6 months or so?).

I think that they do need to pretty up that area, as it adds nothing to it, but it is also an unneeded beautification in an area that is already the most sought after, and possibly the most expensive region in NYC outside of Manhattan (indeed, even more expensive than some areas IN Manhattan).

November 16th, 2010, 10:12 AM
I don't get it, the trench is one of the least objectionable highway designs in NYC. You can barely see it unless you go right up to it and look over. I would focus more on the elevated portions which really sever neighborhoods and blight large areas greater by an order of magnitude

November 17th, 2010, 05:25 AM
Here Are Three Ways to Make the BQE Less Horrible

November 16, 2010, by Joey Arak

http://cdn.cstatic.net/cache/gallery/1307/5181898039_41017fe372_o.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/11/16/here_are_three_ways_to_make_the_bqe_less_horrible. php)

http://cdn.cstatic.net/cache/gallery/4133/5182140250_33fefaf2eb_o.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/11/16/here_are_three_ways_to_make_the_bqe_less_horrible. php)


Pure, unfiltered trench.

There's been a lot of talk about how to gussy up parts of the haggard BQE lately, and in the case of the "BQE trench"—the sunken section of the highway that's basically an extended Robert Moses middle finger to Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and the Columbia Street Waterfront District—those words may lead to actions, if, uh, you've got a few million bucks sitting around. Yesterday those whimsical jolly green plans for a less soul-sucking BQE trench got fleshed out by Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners on behalf of the city's Economic Development Corporation. Brace yourself, because there are now three big ideas for fixing up the trench. Collect 'em all!

The Brooklyn Paper (http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/33/47/dtg_bqetrenchfix_2010_11_19_bk.html?utm_source=fee dburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBrooklynPaper-FullArticles+%28The+Brooklyn+Paper%3A+Full+article s%29) has a rundown of the proposals, which were presented at a public meeting last night. Here's the gist:

1) Green the trench! A massive tree-planting effort to make the chasm more appealing to the eye, "creating one of the greenest stretches in all of Brooklyn." Maybe some sound barriers, too! Estimated cost: $10 million and up.

2) Span the trench! Build new bicycle and pedestrian bridges over the trench at Warren, Baltic, Degraw, President and Carroll Streets. Estimated cost: $20 to $45 million.

3) Canopy the trench! The real longshot: An "iconic, energy-generating green canopy" along the length of the ditch from Atlantic to Hamilton Avenues, made out of steel and sporting numerous environmental benefits. Estimated cost: $85 million.

Fun! But before you go voting on which plan you prefer, please remember that the city has no timeline or source of funding for any of these ideas. Dare to dream, Brooklyn. The ArchPaper (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/9561) has some renderings from this summer provided by the EDC that appear to show early versions of each of these plans. UPDATE: The EDC sent along some fresh renderings.

Three sum! City likes BQE fix plans, but balks at price (http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/33/47/dtg_bqetrenchfix_2010_11_19_bk.html?utm_source=fee dburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBrooklynPaper-FullArticles+%28The+Brooklyn+Paper%3A+Full+article s%29) [BK Paper]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/11/16/here_are_three_ways_to_make_the_bqe_less_horrible. php

November 19th, 2010, 08:09 AM
Curbed seems a bit....sarcastic, eh?

I think they could do with just CLEANING THE WALLS and putting up a decent looking seperator in the center. Right now it looks like a rusty drain trough.

January 21st, 2011, 08:29 PM
Park Panacea over BQE Trench

Capping a Brooklyn highway could mean greener, cleaner South Williamsburg

by Jennifer K. Gorsche

Conceptual rendering showing new park space and a possible community center atop the BQE.

A new park design is moving forward in Southside Williamsburg, thanks to a plan to cap the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) trench running through the neighborhood. Brooklyn Councilwoman Diana Reyna first proposed the idea in 2005, arguing that building a cohesive park in the area would help remedy health issues affecting local children, including asthma, obesity, and diabetes. Early last spring, Brooklyn-based dlandstudio was selected to research strategies for building atop the trench.

A conceptual axonometric view of the proposed park atop the BQE.

“The kids who play there have to play by a six-lane highway,” said dlandstudio principal Susannah Drake. As for Southside Williamsburg’s existing park areas, Drake said, “They’re not well-equipped, they’re disconnected, and they’re often difficult to get to.” Drake and her team spent the better part of 2010 helping Councilwoman Reyna drum up support for the plan from community organizations and government agencies, relying on scientific evidence about noise and air pollution to gain public and private interest. The team is drawing upon several California studies that linked the proximity of major highways to asthma rates, and spurred state legislation prohibiting construction of schools within 150 feet of heavily trafficked arteries. According to dlandstudio, there are five public elementary schools and two junior high schools within the general vicinity of the proposed park area.

A conceptual rendering showing a proposed baseball diamond atop the BQE highway trench.

This month, the firm will begin preparing cost-benefit and health analyses while creating a design model for public presentation. Existing park spaces flank the BQE from Broadway to Borinquen Place, and the plan’s conceptual drawings show these spaces united by a tree-lined lawn, a baseball diamond, and a soccer field. By enclosing the expressway between South 3rd and 5th streets, the team hopes to significantly reduce traffic pollution and noise, which is ten times that of Park Avenue. “We’re trying to reach out to the Columbia School of Public Health to engage thesis students in research,” said dlandstudio associate Rebecca Hill. “We’re relying on data that exists, and making that data more available to more people, but if we’re going to be making more public health claims, we need to have more proof behind it.”

The structural feasibility of capping the expressway walls will also be examined. Though putting an active recreation area such as a baseball diamond over the proposed deck area is structurally easier because it requires a much thinner soil profile than a building, the BQE was not built to current Federal Highway Administration standards, and so any changes would have to comply with new regulations.

Conceptual rendering of proposed improvements to South Williamsburg's divisive BQE trench.

As part of a Phase 1 to be carried out over the next two to five years, the new decks require approval from the city and state departments of transportation, both of which have already expressed support. “Many of the moves we identified in the first phase can be done right now and without much money,” said Drake, who has been given an estimated budget range of $85 to $175 million for the full scope of the project. But some of the park’s components—a large community center, for instance—could be completed at a later date, once the initial groundwork has been laid and more public and private funding secured.

Beyond the aesthetic and holistic value of a BQE park, legislators and residents involved see it as way to change the neighborhood’s social dynamic. “We heard from the community that the parks were dangerous, due to gang activity—there’s this side of the BQE versus that,” said Drake. “The objective is to create a place that will bring the community together.”


June 2nd, 2011, 06:32 AM


June 21st, 2011, 09:12 PM
I know it would be expensive, but simply covering up the BQE would be a real estate boon to the area. I can't believe how short sighted the city is being in respect to the city's unsightly highways. No one wants to live next to a dirty noisy highway, even in Williamsburg. Cover them up, and you not only increase the beauty and quality of life within your city's neighborhoods, but you've removed a tremendous hurdle to the redevelopment of an area that is close to Manhattan and the waterfront.

Considering that the administration is building a billion dollar subway extension to revitalize a neighborhood, a simple cover over the BQE would be a far more economical investment. Further down the line, the city should aggressively pursue the demolition of some elevated highways around NYC for the same reasons.

December 1st, 2011, 06:27 AM
Highway plan driven off road


It’s the end of the road for a pair of ambitious plans to make over two of Brooklyn’s most dilapidated highways.

Blaming the national economic downturn, state and federal transportation officials said yesterday that they are abandoning plans to modernize and revamp crumbling stretches of the Brooklyn-Queens and Gowanus expressways.

Plans had been floated for a 1.5-mile section of the BQE, from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street in Brooklyn Heights. They had ranged from a $280 million renovation of the decrepit roadway – including the two-level portion that famously generates booming sounds from under the Brooklyn Heights Promenade – to various proposals to ease snarling traffic with vehicular tunnels that would’ve run up to $20 billion.

Brooklyn Heights Association Executive Director Judy Stanton said she was "shocked" to learn the state Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration no longer considered overhauling the BQE a "critical need."

"We assumed it was a necessity because they described the BQE as very deteriorated and substandard," Stanton said. "But if all they are going to do is continue Band-Aid repair work at the city’s expense, it won’t be sufficient."

She said an increase in truck traffic has led to more complaints from nearby homeowners about loud bangs and strong vibrations from moving vehicles, adding it will just get worse as the road continues to crumble.

Officials also said they’re not moving forward with a 3.8-mile rehabilitation of the Gowanus Expressway from Sixth Avenue to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.

It would have ranged from $2 billion in repairs to replacing much of the elevated highway in Sunset Park with a $15 billion underground tunnel.

Cobble Hill activist Roy Sloane, who has been fighting for the BQE improvements for many years, said the decision to discontinue studying a highway makeover is a big blow to public safety.
"We were told by the state that the BQE was in danger of collapsing in the 80s," said Sloane. "It’s also pathetic that they put all these years and effort in, spent money on all sorts of designs and are now dropping it.

However, a state DOT spokesman said recent inspections of the two highways showed they “do not require major repairs at this time.”

Naomi Doerner, an urban planner who consulted the state DOT on the BQE project, said in an email that that the city and state "will continue to support efforts to ensure" the highway "remains a safe and reliable roadway in our transportation system."

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/brooklyn/highway_plan_driven_off_road_F8smkfKKR5EKcq6cI2KLr I#ixzz1fHVBmYZz

December 1st, 2011, 08:22 AM
Yet we spend nearly 2 billion dollars a day on the military...

December 1st, 2011, 08:59 AM
Maybe, just MAYBE, we should spend a bit more on the Army Corp of Engineers and have THEM doing things in the city rather than fully armed and armored troops marching around our points of travel "for our safety".

In times of peace, if you want to keep a standing army, they better be doing more than training and standing guard.....

December 1st, 2011, 09:10 AM
Let's leave the army out of this. They pretty much ruined Florida.

December 1st, 2011, 11:26 AM

That was FEMA and poor management.

What I am saying is that if they handled the reconstruction here with as much attention and $$ as in other areas, we would not even be having this discussion.

But instead, we spend money bombing and rebuilding OTHER countries that will never pay us back, and pay our troops to stand and look tough at Penn Station.

December 1st, 2011, 01:26 PM
That's because if we bomb other countries, we can hire private contractors to rebuild their infrastructure, and then they can run away with all the $.

December 1st, 2011, 02:08 PM
Well, we have gotten better at it now.

Now we simply hire someone to do the bombing AND someone to do the reconstruction!

December 1st, 2011, 02:42 PM
All the better, while our own country rots! :p

December 3rd, 2011, 03:49 PM
NYC/NYS have their own taxing authority. If they feel the need to to rebuild these road, let them raise taxes and/or issue bonds (and raise taxes to pay the interest) We don't need to go begging to the feds.

December 3rd, 2011, 04:17 PM
Why not?

This region sends the most money to the Feds year in and year out and get less of a percentage back compared to the rest of the country.

In effect we are subsidizing the rest of the country, meanwhile our infrastructure is crumbling and you want us to pay even more taxes on top of the already highest taxes we pay in the nation to fix infrastructure that should rightfully be paid in part by the Feds, who instead are using the money we send them building little used roads in Montana because you are too proud to "beg."

That's got to be the height of lunacy.

December 3rd, 2011, 05:38 PM
Plus we're already paying for the #7 extension all by ourselves.

December 4th, 2011, 01:06 PM

That was FEMA and poor management.

What I am saying is that if they handled the reconstruction here with as much attention and $$ as in other areas, we would not even be having this discussion.

But instead, we spend money bombing and rebuilding OTHER countries that will never pay us back, and pay our troops to stand and look tough at Penn Station.
As long as the weapons industry holds as much clout, power and money as it currently does, this situation will never change.

December 4th, 2011, 05:25 PM
Why not?

This region sends the most money to the Feds year in and year out and get less of a percentage back compared to the rest of the country.

In effect we are subsidizing the rest of the country, meanwhile our infrastructure is crumbling and you want us to pay even more taxes on top of the already highest taxes we pay in the nation to fix infrastructure that should rightfully be paid in part by the Feds, who instead are using the money we send them building little used roads in Montana because you are too proud to "beg."

That's got to be the height of lunacy.

I think there's a backlog of 590 Billion in Transportation projects in the Northeast....shameful if you ask me...

January 6th, 2012, 12:21 AM
Road Work Ahead, Forever


The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway as seen from Brooklyn Heights. The expressway is highly
congested, making it difficult to repair.

Wilfredo Torres spotted the pothole ahead of him. He knew that if he swerved, he would veer into the next lane and cause an accident. If he slowed, he would probably be rammed from behind by a tractor-trailer.

Resigned, he drove his Lincoln Town Car, a livery cab bound for La Guardia Airport on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (http://www.nycroads.com/roads/brooklyn-queens/), into the abyss.

The pothole ate his tire for lunch, and popped off the aluminum rim for dessert. He had a blowout; his passenger missed the flight.

Most days, and most hours, the dire choices faced by many drivers on the B.Q.E. are these: Bad, worse and no exit.

“I will be very blunt about it,” said Mr. Torres, who has driven on the B.Q.E. for 20 years. “It’s a nightmare.”

New York City has plenty of aging, rage-inducing roadways, as drivers who have spent time on the Cross Bronx Expressway can attest. With its multitude of trucks and dangerous on-ramps, the B.Q.E. is a den of congestion at virtually all hours of the day.

But one factor has condemned this antiquated 16.8-mile stretch of highway to a place of longstanding infamy in the New York metropolitan area, if not all of urban America: construction that never seems to end.

As Gerry Michalowski, a truck driver who has traveled the B.Q.E. since 1978, put it, “It was under construction then, and it’s still under construction now.”

The first section of the road, which included the Kosciuszko Bridge, opened in 1939. In the 1950s, as other sections of the roadway were completed, Robert Moses, New York’s master builder, hailed the highway as part of a grand plan to solve the “problem of express travel.”

Repairs began in 1960, well before the road was officially finished in 1970. Today, the infernal color orange — seen on barrels, cones, “Work Ahead” warnings — is a permanent feature of the deteriorating landscape.

In the latest chapter in this perpetual story of repair, the state last month canceled two environmental studies that were examining alternatives — including the construction of tunnels — to rebuilding sections of the highway in Brooklyn Heights and along a section known as the Gowanus Expressway.

There will be no tunnel and no radical reconstruction because there is no money, State Department of Transportation officials said. Smaller-scale repairs will occur when necessary, and when money becomes available.

“Our focus is on preserving the infrastructure and ensuring that safety is maintained,” said Phillip Eng, the regional director for the Transportation Department.

The Brooklyn Heights project, including the replacement of the triple-deck bridge that the iconic Promenade sits atop, was supposed to cost $354.3 million. The state said they would save $6 million by canceling the study.

Delays in finding long-term solutions to the B.Q.E.’s chronic traffic woes are not what veteran users want to hear. As freight trucks idle for billable hours on stretches of the roadway, Gregory Benson, the accountant at Hedley’s, a trucking company in Williamsburg, looks at his bottom line and wonders about the cost of total reconstruction as compared with continuous repairs.
“Why is it not being done?” he said. “By now it should be a high-tech highway.”

But the reality remains that the expressway is woefully outdated.

When the road was built, there were no federal standards for the width of lanes. As a result, in Downtown Brooklyn, its lanes are 10 1/2 feet wide instead of the now-standard 12 feet. The road was not designed for the size or volume of today’s vehicles, either; as many as 170,000 travel from the Gowanus Expressway to the Brooklyn Bridge each day, 18 percent of them trucks in Downtown Brooklyn alone, the state said.

That continuous pounding, along with the effects of de-icing salt, has weakened the structural steel and concrete over the past 50-some years, necessitating constant, emergency repairs
In addition, the road has endured a number of specific ongoing projects from Queens to the Gowanus since 2002. The total cost of those repairs on the B.Q.E. extending until 2015 is estimated at $1.2 billion, state officials said.

“The perception of the public that the road is always under construction is accurate,” said Denise M. Richardson, the executive director of the General Contractors Association of New York, some of whose members built, and now repair, it. “Because what happens is, we have to close a lane, fix the lane, open the lane, and repeat the cycle.”

That has helped make the B.Q.E. a punch line and a refrain of every local traffic report.

“I often refer to it as the Brooklyn-Queens Distressway,” said Pete Tauriello, the veteran radio traffic reporter who is heard most frequently on 1010 WINS. “Because that’s exactly what it is — today is no exception. We have very extensive delays as I am speaking, southbound from Kent Avenue to the Belt Parkway. Earlier, we were looking at delays on the inbound side, at one point backed up to the Belt Parkway all the way to the Kosciuszko Bridge.”

The legend of the B.Q.E. extends beyond its crippling power — one fender bender can cause a backup from Long Island to New Jersey — to the ripple effect it has had on its neighbors.

In Brooklyn Heights, residents in homes overlooking the highway can be awakened by trucks during the only hours they are not slowed by traffic, between 2 and 5 a.m. If a truck going 50 miles an hour hits a single pothole, or one raised seam in the road, sleep might be finished.

“When they hit these bumps, it sounds like a bomb going off,” said Bo Rodgers, who has lived in an apartment overlooking the B.Q.E. since 1975.

The highway has also been an irritating neighbor for Lucille Plotz, 85, of Columbia Heights and her husband, Charles, 90. Take, for instance, a recent afternoon inside their apartment. First came the vibrations, then a loud crash; her butter cookies toppled from the counter to the kitchen floor, and the radiator cover dislodged and fell onto a wooden chair.
“If it was properly maintained it wouldn’t be a bother, but now it’s beyond just maintenance,” Mrs. Plotz said.

The highway outside the Plotzes’ window travels along a cantilevered roadway that is anchored to a cliff wall, embedding it in the same earth as the surrounding apartment buildings. Mrs. Plotz has corresponded with officials since 1981 about the pothole problem and her concerns about the structural stability of both the bridge’s roadway and her building. She joined the B.Q.E. Crisis Committee in the 1980s, urging her neighbors to demand repairs.

By June 2010, state transportation officials had warned local community leaders that “corrective action will be required within the next 10 to 15 years” to fix the bridge, according to the minutes of a meeting about the B.Q.E. bridge project that involved public officials and community leaders.

“You take this structure, it’s 50 years old, and it hasn’t been significantly rehabbed from the time it has opened,” Ms. Richardson, the Contractors Association director, said. But complicating this particular section of the B.Q.E. is the attendant bureaucracy; the bridge is owned by the city, inspected by the state, overseen by a federal agency and repaired by the city. The city is also responsible for fixing potholes along the length of the B.Q.E.

The state is responsible for repairing and repaving larger stretches, as it recently did, to the delight of some drivers, in Jackson Heights and from Kent Avenue to Tillary Street in Brooklyn.
“If you’re out early — or very late — it’s a completely different road,” said Michael Pollack, the owner of Brooklyn Roasting Company in Dumbo. His drivers deliver coffee in Brooklyn and Queens starting at 6 a.m. “But you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time and you’d be frozen.”

To commiserate with his customers, Mr. Pollack created a B.Q.E. espresso roast. Like the roadway, the blend is reconstructed every four months.

“We finish one segment,” Mr. Pollack said, “and start another.”


February 18th, 2012, 11:17 PM
What It Looks Like to Walk the Length of the BQE

by Noah Kazis

Here’s a project we’re glad not to be doing (but we’re thrilled someone is). Gallery owner Robert Hult is spending today walking the route of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, not on the highway but as close alongside it as possible, and posting regular photos to his Twitter account (https://twitter.com/#%21/RRRoEH).

Taken collectively, the snapshots create a real vision of not only how Robert Moses’ massive highway transforms the blocks along its ten mile path, but how the communities around it have responded to the mega-structure abutting their homes and workplaces. Going through the full collection of photos, especially in order, is well worth your time.

http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/BQEIntersection.jpg (http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/BQEIntersection.jpg)
Many of the images look something like this, a blank wall and plenty of asphalt.
Nothing pedestrian-friendly or economically vibrant here.

http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/BQELaundry.jpg (http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/BQELaundry.jpg)
So close to the highway, car-oriented design dominates. The Turbo Laundry Center advertises
“ample parking,” and boasts a half-block curb cut for its surface lot.

http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/BQEOfframp.jpg (http://www.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/BQEOfframp.jpg)
The BQE off-ramps that Hult has to pass always include a wide and dangerous crossing.
At McGuinness Boulevard, the off-ramp is a traffic magnet, absolutely packed with automobiles.


August 2nd, 2013, 04:46 PM
Eight Brick BQE Walls to be Muraled in DUMBO

December 29th, 2013, 05:46 AM
In a Noisy Brooklyn Park, the Best New Feature May Be a Wall

Sarah Goodyear

Sarah Goodyear

The construction of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (http://www.nycroads.com/roads/brooklyn-queens/) in the mid-20th century was one of New York City über-planner Robert Moses’s proudest triumphs. The destruction the BQE subsequently brought to neighborhoods along the Brooklyn waterfront is today considered one of Moses's most reviled legacies. Moses dug a trench through Red Hook to carry his dream road, gutting a thriving immigrant community. Traffic roars along there still, exhaust pouring out of the ditch where the highway runs.

Farther north, the more affluent residents of Brooklyn Heights were able to prevent Moses from tearing up their neighborhood’s historic brownstones, which now routinely sell for millions of dollars. The BQE here clings to the bluff that gives the Heights their name, running under a pedestrian promenade that offers spectacular views of Manhattan.

Suddenly, I realized I could hear the waves lapping at the shoreline.

When Moses built the BQE, no one worried about the impact of the road on what was then industrial waterfront directly below the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. But today, those working piers have been reinvented as Brooklyn Bridge Park. Stretching for 1.3 miles along the harbor, the park — which is being constructed one segment at a time over the course of several years — has quickly become one of the borough’s most popular outdoor destinations. Designed by landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh, it has brought much-needed recreation areas to a part of the city where large open spaces are in short supply. But its success means that the grinding din of the nearby BQE, quite audible in some parts of the park, has become an affliction for yet another generation of New Yorkers.

A new section of the park just opened, and it features an ingenious solution to the looming problem of Moses’s legacy. A 30-foot-high earthen berm blocks the pedestrian path and lawns from the BQE, shielding park users from the view of the roadway. More importantly, it cuts the irritating, stressful sound of the cars and trucks motoring along. Walking along the path and passing from the section unprotected by the wall to the place where it begins is the auditory equivalent of entering into cool shade after being exposed to the glaring sun.

How significant is the difference? On the relatively low-traffic morning of the day after Christmas, I used a decibel-meter app on my phone to measure the effect. Keep in mind that the ambient noise from the harbor is relatively high, with intermittent but frequent boat and helicopter traffic. Keep in mind also that the decibel scale is logarithmic, and that 80 decibels represents 10 times the intensity of 70 decibels. (The system is actually incredibly complex. if you want to dive in you can start here (http://www.noisehelp.com/decibel-scale.html) or here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decibel)). And obviously, the app is not a professionally calibrated sound-measuring instrument.

The difference in noise levels between where the wall ends and where it begins is substantial. (Photo: Sarah Goodyear)

On the unprotected pathway, the average reading hovered in the low- to mid-80s, a level described by the sound engineers at Industrial Noise Control (http://www.industrialnoisecontrol.com/comparative-noise-examples.htm) as being equivalent to an average factory, or a freight train at a distance of about 15 yards. Eight hours of exposure to levels like that can result in hearing damage. Once I passed into the "sound shadow" of the berm, the average reading went down to about 69, closer to the level of a lively conversation. The relief I felt was palpable. Suddenly, I realized I could hear the waves lapping at the shoreline.

The long-term health effects of noise in modern cities (http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/09/road-noise-deadly-maybe-annoying-definitely/3235/) are only beginning to be understood, although anyone who has ever lived in a city knows intuitively how stressful the constant din of motorized traffic can be. The new wall at Brooklyn Bridge Park provides a bit of respite from the assault. But it’s only a few hundred feet long. Its greater value may be in the way it makes us aware of the destructive and unpleasant sonic reality we take for granted every day.