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5 NYCHA leaders voice support for BQX streetcar

Some community organizations, residents, transit activists remain wary

December 22, 2016 By Scott Enman Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The proposed BQX runs past Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center. Rendering courtesy of the Friends of the BQX
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A group of five NYCHA resident association presidents announced on Monday their support for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed $2.5 billion Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar line.

Among the five presidents that vocalized their backing, two are from Brooklyn and three are from Queens.

From Kings County, President of the Red Hook East Houses Residents Association Francis Brown and President of the Ingersoll Houses Residents Association in Downtown Brooklyn Anthony Sosa expressed their approval.

President of the Queensbridge Houses Residents Association April Simpson, President of the Astoria Houses Residents Association Claudia Coger and President of the Ravenswood Residents Association Carol Wilkins also endorsed the project.

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The five presidents will be joining the board of directors of the Friends of the BQX, a not-for-profit organization created to support the city’s efforts to build a streetcar line.

“These local leaders know firsthand the challenges a community cut-off from reliable transit access faces, where it’s difficult to get to jobs, school, medical appointments, or frankly anywhere you want to go,” said Ya-Ting Liu, executive director of the Friends of the BQX. “I look forward to working with the new board members to ensure that all New Yorkers have a voice in bringing better transit to our city.”

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.

“While we’ve watched our Brooklyn waterfront change in major ways in recent years from new job opportunities to new parks what hasn’t changed is our antiquated transportation system,” said Sosa. “The BQX will be a major improvement for our community and will make accessing these new job opportunities and economic development much easier and convenient for my neighbors.”

“Red Hook has been fighting for real transit options for years, but instead we’ve been stuck with slow buses that are unreliable and get snarled in traffic at all hours of the day,” said Brown. “Our residents deserve a real transit solution like the BQX, so we can access all of what this City has to offer no matter what neighborhood we call home.”

While the aforementioned presidents have voiced their support for the project, several organizations and residents from Red Hook and Downtown Brooklyn have expressed their opposition to the project.

For example, Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn residents gathered at Long Island University’s Brooklyn campus on Nov. 15 for a Community Board 2 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.

In addition, UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community-based organization and a group that promotes the sustainability and resiliency of Sunset Park, has also opposed the project saying in a letter, “The proposed BQX flies in the face of this community-based model and instead puts luxury real estate development at the center of the agenda.”

Transit activist and cartographer Andrew Lynch worries that the BQX will go against de Blasio’s Vision Zero traffic safety program.

“If the line ran in mixed traffic, it would be an absolute disaster, and my worry is that it would require removing a lot of the dedicated bike lanes that have been installed along Kent Avenue or Flushing Avenue,” Lynch told the Brooklyn Eagle. “There’s only so much space on the road.”

“It’s just the real estate people pushing de Blasio to do it,” Lynch continued. “He should be trying to improve bus service in Brooklyn and Queens.”

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