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In Downtown Brooklyn, a difference of opinion on the BQX

December 21, 2016 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A rendering of the BQX running through Downtown Brooklyn near the Jay Street-MetroTech subway station. Rendering courtesy of Friends of BQX
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Since its inception in February, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed $2.5 billion Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar line has been a hot topic of discussion.

The trolley, which would run from Sunset Park to Astoria, Queens, has been praised by some as a necessary step towards serving transit-starved communities, but it has also been criticized by others who believe that the project is fueled by developers and is a waste of money.

The line’s proposed route would run from Sunset Park through Gowanus, Red Hook, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Vinegar Hill, the Navy Yard, Williamsburg and Greenpoint before entering Long Island City and Astoria.

Downtown Brooklyn is one of the neighborhoods along the streetcar’s proposed corridor where a difference of opinion exists between constituents.

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For example, a collection of 14 Community Board 2 (CB2) businesses, advocacy organizations, higher education institutions, nonprofits and groups recently wrote a letter to CB2’s members stating their support for the BQX.

“We are writing to express our strong support for the proposed Brooklyn Queens Connector streetcar,” the organizations wrote. “The BQX will connect NYCHA residents to growing job centers, college students to their campuses, waterfront residents to better transit and the sick and elderly to critical medical services.

“All while increasing foot traffic to the shops and stores along the route. And it will bring audiences from all over the city to our venues for performances, classes, film screenings and museum/gallery visits,” the letter said. 

The groups that expressed their support for the BQX in the letter are: Agger Fish Corp, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Pensa, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Cadman Towers Inc., Flocabulary, United Photo Industries, Brooklyn Law School, Theatre for a New Audience, BRIC, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, DUMBO Improvement District, Gleason’s Gym and Brooklyn Education Innovation Network.

Alternatively, residents of the neighborhood gathered at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus on Nov. 15 for a CB2 Transportation Committee Meeting to argue that the BQX is not desired, mentioning the enormous cost to taxpayers, the loss of parking spaces and the disruption of traffic.

Although no route through Downtown Brooklyn has officially been chosen yet, four possible paths were suggested at the November meeting. The BQX could run down Adams Street/Boerum Place, Joralemon Street, Court Street or Atlantic Avenue.

“When you’re getting the subway connections, you’re moving away from the waterfront,” CB2 Transportation Committee member John Quint told Gothamist at the meeting. “Aren’t you losing the whole concept which was to serve the underserved community?”

“We’re trying to connect to places that are already congested,” CB2 member Doreen Gallo told Gothamist. “It sounds like it’s the developer saying, ‘We’ve got to connect DUMBO.'”

Residents also expressed their concern at the meeting that the BQX’s planned route could conflict with future plans to repair the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway’s derelict triple cantilever underneath the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

“It’s still early,” CB2 District Manager Robert Perris told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday. “The team is still working on figuring out a route and I think where that goes will very much affect people’s opinions, both potentially pro and con.

“We haven’t taken a formal position,” he continued. “We have some members who feel very strongly in opposition … For the most part, board members individually are still taking a wait-and-see approach to this because it’s still so conceptual at this point, so schematic.”


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