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Kris
September 13th, 2003, 07:54 PM
September 14, 2003

SOUTH BROOKLYN

The State Patches Up a Road That Residents Want to Ditch

By TARA BAHRAMPOUR

Brooklyn residents who want to sink the 3.5-mile elevated stretch of the Gowanus Expressway underground got a chill last month when they learned that the state's Department of Transportation had designated $344 million to shore up the existing structure.

The money will go toward resurfacing the road, which state officials said is necessary for immediate upkeep, regardless of what ultimately happens to the expressway.

But Jo Anne Simon, a Boerum Hill resident who heads the Stakeholder Group, a group that represents neighborhoods along the corridor that support the idea of a tunnel, said the allocation of funds worried her, partly because officials did not let her group know about it beforehand.

The debate over whether to bury the elevated part of the Gowanus Expressway, a steel-and-concrete leg of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that runs from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel entrance in Red Hook to 65th Street in Bay Ridge, has been simmering for more than a decade. Proponents point to flaws of the elevated road, which was built in the 1940's.

"It divides the community into a waterfront and a back-of-the-expressway portion, by cutting a 100-foot swath through Third Avenue," said Carl Kaiserman, a Park Slope resident who belongs to the Stakeholder Group. "It causes air pollution from the stagnant traffic."

Harold Fink, director of the Gowanus Expressway Project at the state's Department of Transportation, said that though the allocation for the resurfacing was higher than usual, it did not jeopardize the tunnel's chances of being built.

A study under way may not lead to a decision until 2008, he said, and design and construction could last to 2020.

"This deck can't last that long," Mr. Fink said, adding that resurfacing was "not a long-term solution."

A real solution could cost between $1.5 billion for rebuilding the existing structure to $9.7 billion for constructing a tunnel, he added.

Tunnel advocates say the cost would be significantly less. They also say that the long-term cost of maintaining the crumbling structure would outweigh the cost of a tunnel, which would be protected from the elements and require fewer repairs.

Switching to a tunnel would also add more usable real estate.

"It would free up the land that the Interstate actually sits on, which is enormously valuable," Mr. Kaiserman said. "I'm not sure who should get it, but obviously it would be used for more than car parking," as it is now.


Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

TLOZ Link5
September 13th, 2003, 08:54 PM
New York City built some of the first superhighways in the nation. Unfortunately, as the oldest they are also among the least well-kept. The infrastructure, although still viable, is rapidly becoming obsolete and no longer suited to the city's current needs. A complete overhaul and modernization of the entire municipal highway system is in order, and the Gowanus Expressway is a decent place to start. Another order of business that should definitely be addressed is the Van Wyck.

Burying the Gowanus is an excellent idea and will definitely be the most beneficial long-term choice.

Gulcrapek
September 13th, 2003, 10:17 PM
Definitely a tunnel. The traffic does stagnate a lot, and the street below is turned into a dismal, dirty, noisy place, unlike say, the El on Brighton Beach Avenue. The Gowanus is much wider and the traffic is much more constant.