Is it time to get rid of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway?
Jan. 10, 2019
Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Jersey City from above.
The BQE needs to be rebuilt. Unfortunately, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade is built on top of it, and the New York City Department of Transportation’s proposed plan to fix the freeway would close the promenade for six years
. Understandably, the Brooklyn Heights Association does not like the plan. After an about-face was made on the plans to shut down the L train for more than a year, the BHA is pleading with the city similarly backtrack on its plans
for the BQE.
The BQE sucks. It is narrow, dangerous, and prone to traffic jams. It is not clear how the city can avoid doing something with the BQE; its deteriorating condition is expected to become a safety hazard in the very near future. Maybe the answer is not to rebuild it, but to begin the process of sun-setting the freeway altogether.
Freeways along waterfronts have been demolished in cities across the country since the late 1990s. The West Side Highway in Manhattan was one of such projects. Maybe this area would be better off with a West Side Highway-style road where pedestrians aren’t cut off from the waterfront.
The city could also create a tunnel for the BQE in this section and maintain it as a freeway. Perhaps the tunnel could be built under the existing roadway now, then when complete the current route is seamlessly redirected to the new road. The existing roadway could be partially demolished but maintain the promenade above, and restore easy pedestrian access to the waterfront.
We are sure the city has looked at it from many angles, but the plan to maintain the status quo doesn’t seem to us to be very forward-thinking for this opportunity. This is another chance to create another world class experience in Brooklyn and we encourage the city not to waste it.
Stephon Owens is the Founder and CEO of Vezpuchi.