Southern Brooklyn pols blast de Blasio street car plan
A group of Southern Brooklyn lawmakers issued a joint statement to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s much-talked-about plan to establish a Brooklyn-Queens streetcar service and their statement could be summed up in three words: What about us?
The elected officials, including Councilmembers Mark Treyger, Chaim Deutsch and Vincent Gentile, as well as state Sen. Diane J. Savino and Assemblymembers William Colton and Pamela Harris, argued that instead of planning a streetcar in Sunset Park and North Brooklyn, the mayor should be paying closer attention to transportation needs in Southern Brooklyn.
“How does the mayor’s new $2.5 billion transportation plan address the needs of underserved Southern Brooklyn residents? We will not tolerate city administration transportation proposals that leave out Southern Brooklyn and other areas of the city that are in dire need of transit upgrades. These are areas dealing with a lack of transportation options, lengthy, delay-ridden commutes and overcrowding,” the statement reads in part.
Residents in several Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods suffer from inadequate transit options, according to the group of elected officials, who pointed to the fact that riders have been clamoring for the return of the F express for more than 30 years, are eager to see better service on the R train, and have felt stranded by cuts in service on X28 and X29 express buses.
In addition, the B1 bus, which is one of only two transit options to bring students from Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Gravesend to Kingsborough Community College, is overcrowded, creating unsafe conditions, the lawmakers said.
“Plans to improve transportation options for New Yorkers need to benefit all of the city’s residents. A five-borough transportation plan must account for all regions of the boroughs,” the statement from the lawmakers read.
The mayor officially unveiled his plan in his State of the City address at Lehman College in the Bronx on Feb. 4.
The proposed $2.5 billion streetcar line, to be called the Brooklyn Queens Connector, would begin operating in 2024 and would run from Sunset Park through Gowanus, Red Hook, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Vinegar Hill, the Navy Yard, Williamsburg and Greenpoint and would then enter Long Island City in Queens before moving on to Astoria.
The impetus for the line has been the tremendous growth in Brooklyn and Queens waterfront areas, according to the mayor.
“We’re now seeing explosive growth on the waterfront in Brooklyn and Queens. Today, we take the next great step in connecting New Yorkers to the heart of our new economy for New York,” the Associated Press quoted de Blasio as saying.
The streetcar would give Brooklyn riders a more direct route to Queens without detouring into Manhattan on the current F, N and R lines, the Brooklyn Eagle reported. Riders would not need to walk long distances to the waterfront from G train stops that are further inland.
Interest in the proposed streetcar service has also grown because of the possible two-year shutdown of the L train, which would hit Williamsburg and Bushwick riders hard, the Eagle reported.
The mayor’s plan has won the support of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and transportation advocates. It has also been endorsed by NYU Lutheran Medical Center, the hospital located in Sunset Park.
“NYU Lutheran supports Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to build a streetcar that will create a direct connection between Brooklyn and Queens,” Claudia Caine, president of NYU Lutheran Medical Center, said in a statement. “Not only will this new transit option accelerate the revitalization of neighborhoods along the Brooklyn waterfront, but neighborhoods like Red Hook will have better access to critical services, including medical care. We applaud Mayor de Blasio’s plan to better connect neighborhoods outside Manhattan.”
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