Brooklyn Heights

City to issue RFP for $1.7B Brooklyn Heights BQE rehab design in May

April 28, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A Request for Proposals (RFP) will soon be issued for a $1.7 billion project to rehab the crumbling Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) triple cantilever underpinning the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.  Photo by Mary Frost

Cantilever repairs to take 10 years

A Request for Proposals (RFP) will soon be issued for the 10-year, $1.7 billion project to rehabilitate the crumbling, 62-year-old Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) triple cantilever underpinning the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) officials briefed the Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) and other stakeholders on April 20.

The structure is in appalling shape. Concrete on the BQE’s walls is missing in places, exposing reinforcing bars that are completely rusted. Netting has been installed under the decks to prevent concrete from falling.

Brooklyn Heights’ residents have felt the vibrations from the highway shake their homes and crack their walls for years. The crash rate on most segments of the highway in 2010 exceeded the statewide average, with 997 crashes in 2010.

The project will take five years to study and plan, according to DOT, and another five years to carry out. The work will rehabilitate 21 bridges and other structures, and will improve deficient roadway and ramp configurations.

After the RFP is released in May, the design contract will begin in early 2017. A preliminary design is expected to be completed in 2019. Depending on the plan chosen, construction could start in 2021 or 2022, and will be completed in 2025 or 2026.

The rehab will extend from the Columbia Street exchange south of Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street, just north of the Manhattan Bridge.

This is not the first time the BQE rehab problem has been studied. In 2006, the city held design workshops, and in 2009 identified possible tunnel alternatives. But the tunnels were considered unfeasible, and the study ended in 2010 without any movement.

BHA to address neighborhood concerns

 The BHA says it is working to alleviate some of the impacts the immense project is sure to have on the neighborhood.

Neighborhood concerns include maintaining traffic flow without clogging local streets, protecting adjacent buildings, and the project’s effect on recent development, including Brooklyn Bridge Park. During previous work on the BQE, Pier 6, now covered with flowers and pathways, was used as a staging area.

Concrete on the BQE’s walls is missing in places, and netting has been installed under the decks to prevent concrete from falling. Photo by Mary FrostThere are also transit-related structures running under and next to the project area.

DOT is now “finalizing” its stakeholder list. BHA said in a release that it will be an “active participant in the stakeholder working group to ensure that the project addresses neighborhood concerns, including mitigating impacts during construction and improving how the BQE integrates with neighboring communities, as well as creating a safer, quieter roadway.”

The BQE’s triple cantilever design in Brooklyn Heights – which includes two levels for BQE traffic and another for the Promenade, with Furman Street running underneath, came about as an alternative to Robert Moses’ plan to run the highway right through Brooklyn Heights. (In a cantilever, the roadways are supported along only one edge.)

DOT calls the BQE one of the most heavily traveled roads in the city. Annual average daily traffic in 2006 was 123,000 vehicles. By 2014, that was up to 140,000-plus. From 11 to 17 percent of this traffic was comprised of trucks.