Velázquez pushes for Heights Promenade walkway to Brooklyn Bridge Park
A plan to build a vertical walkway between the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park has received a strong push from U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (West and Central Brooklyn, LES).
The time to line up another entrance to the busy park is now, Velázquez says, since the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) is currently in the planning stage for a major rehabilitation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), which underpins the Promenade.
Velázquez is urging DOT to incorporate an entrance to the park from the Montague Street or Remsen Street sections of the Promenade. One idea is for the series of steps to connect to the grass-covered sound-attenuating berm in the park below. Another idea has the walkway connecting to a ventilation building in the park.
A Montague Street entrance would both relieve pressure on other, more residential park entrances such as the Joralemon Street entrance and would bring potential customers to the shops along commercial Montague Street. But the idea has, in the past, raised concerns about blocking the landmarked view from the Promenade.
On July 21, Velázquez wrote to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg stressing the importance of easing public access to the park’s fields, facilities and public events. More than 330,000 visitors pass through the park each week, she said. In 2008, Velázquez secured funding for a Brooklyn Bridge Park transportation access study.
“For native New Yorkers and visitors alike, Brooklyn Bridge Park is a space for recreation, events and relaxation,” Velázquez said. “In order to meet such high demand, I’m urging NYCDOT to consider the creation of additional entrances. I strongly believe that by making access to the park easier, we can fully maximize our public spaces.”
A Brooklyn Bridge Park spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday, “We are always supportive of creating more access to the park, and appreciated the Congresswoman’s letter. We look forward to discussing it with her.”
The Brooklyn Heights Association said in a statement, “As Representative Velázquez has highlighted, the planned rehabilitation of the BQE proposal presents a fresh opportunity for consideration by NYCDOT and its design team of additional or improved access to the park and other changes to the pedestrian environment in and around the highway structure. The BHA will carefully evaluate these design options and, with input from other community stakeholders, make its recommendations to NYDDOT as part of the project’s planning outreach process.”
The text of the letter is below.
July 21, 2017
NYC Department of Transportation
55 Water Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10041
Dear Commissioner Trottenberg:
I am writing to urge full and fair consideration to add additional entrance points to Brooklyn Bridge Park. It is my understanding that a petition with over 1,000 signatories was recently submitted regarding an additional access point from Brooklyn Heights to Brooklyn Bridge Park at or near Montague Street. I encourage your consideration of this project as you undertake the engineering assessment of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) triple cantilever.
Brooklyn Bridge Park’s facilities, fields, and public events attract visitors from all over the city and the world. In fact, over 330,000 visitors pass through the park each week. It is my understanding that this influx of visitors, coupled with a lack of park entrances, has proven challenging for residents living near current access points. An entrance on Montague Street would both disperse the park visitors and create more foot-traffic for businesses located along that corridor.
In fact, the potential addition of new entrance points to Brooklyn Bridge Park has already been studied. Over ten years ago, I secured funding for a Brooklyn Bridge Park transportation access study. In 2008 this study yielded many good ideas for improving park access, some of which have been implemented during construction of the park, and others of which are yet to be realized. The study, funded through the US Department of Transportation, was conducted by a multi-disciplinary team of traffic engineers, transportation planners, and architects directed by Sam Schwartz PLLC on behalf of the Downtown Brooklyn Waterfront Local Development Corporation.
The study yielded seven potential short-term and long-term transportation initiatives to improve access to Brooklyn Bridge Park without the use of private automobiles. Four measures have since been implemented and others are still on the drawing board. One of these measures includes a “Vertical Pedestrian Connection” – a structure to connect the Promenade with the Park.
A series of ramps and stairs that connect the Promenade at Remsen Street or Montague Street to a 35-foot berm in the Park was conceptually developed to create a mid-Park entrance from Brooklyn Heights that does not affect the scenic view plane and is Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant. However, based upon the New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYS DOT) plan to study the potential reconstruction of the BQE triple cantilever, this vertical connection proposal was put on hold. Given the recent BQE rehabilitation study, now is a perfect time to consider new ways to incorporate additional park entrance points into rebuilding plans.
To benefit the local community and the public at large, I strongly encourage your team to consider the creation of an additional Brooklyn Bridge Park entrance as you undertake plans for the BQE rehabilitation.
Thank you for your consideration on this matter.
Nydia M. Velazquez
Member of Congress
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