Truck ban on BQE? Golden says it’s possible
Transportation officials might be forced to consider a total ban on truck traffic on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) at some point within the next few years due to the deteriorating condition of the roadway, a top state Senate Republican predicted.
In an interview with the Brooklyn Eagle, state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) said the BQE is in such bad shape, particularly in the section located in Brooklyn Heights, that a ban on trucks could become necessary by the year 2025.
“They might have to cut off the BQE to trucks,” Golden told the Eagle.
One way to head off that possibility is to have the state authorize a way to expedite the process in which roadway repairs are made, according to Golden, who said officials are looking into streamlining the bureaucratic process that contractors face in repair projects. “It would allow them to work faster to get projects done,” he said.
The BQE is scheduled to undergo major repairs starting in 2020, according to The New York Times, which reported that the $1.7-billion project will focus on a 1.5 mile-stretch of the highway located between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street.
The BQE was built between 1944 and 1948.
In another transportation-related development, Golden said he is pushing MTA to lower the tolls on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge so that Brooklyn residents get the same toll discount enjoyed by Staten Islanders.
While he feels sympathy for Staten Islanders and believes residents of that borough deserve a break on the bridge toll, Golden said Brooklyn residents also deserve a discount in view of the fact that many of them travel frequently to Staten Island to shop or visit family members.
“They can’t get off the island any other way but the bridge. But we can’t get on the Island. It should be the same price as Staten Island,” he said.
Golden, who plans to run for re-election this year, sat down with the Eagle in his Bay Ridge district office at 7408 Fifth Ave. for a wide-ranging interview on his priorities for the current legislative term, which began Jan. 3.
Golden, a retired cop and a former City Council member, was first elected to the state senate in 2002 and has steadily moved up the ranks to become one of the top Republicans in the chamber.
Golden said one of his main priorities is to fight to ensure that New York City gets its fair share of education funding. “We have to make sure we get the right amount of money,” he said.
Over the past 10 years, Golden was among the elected officials who worked to obtain funding to enable School District 20 (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst-Borough Park) to construct new school buildings as well as add extensions to existing schools.
Because of that effort, District 20 was to create 10,000 new seats for students in local schools, he said.
But the 10,000 seats might actually fall far short of what the district needs, according to Golden, who said enrollments have jumped.
“We were told 10 years ago, ‘Our schools are overcrowded. If you give us 10,000 seats, it will help.’ We created 10,000 new seats and the schools are still overcrowded,” Golden said.
Golden wants at least part of the education funding to go toward programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs, as well as arts programs.
The State Legislature has not passed Republican-led bills to allow education on tax credits for parents of religious and private school students. Golden vowed to continue fighting for passage.
“We believe this is something important,” he told the Eagle. A tax credit would help families, he said. “You would be able to pay for your child’s education.”
Funding for NYPD is also high on Golden’s list of priorities. “I fight to keep the flow of dollars,” he said. “We work to make sure the NYPD has the tools they need to keep the streets safe.”
The funding from the state pays for things like additional bulletproof vests for cops and bulletproof glass for patrol car windows.
One area of concern is the rising rate of opioid addiction in New York state. “It’s not a ghetto drug. It’s happening to doctor’s kids,” Golden said.
People start out on painkillers and then turn to heroin when they can no longer find a doctor willing to prescribe painkillers, he said. “They cut heroin from fentanyl,” he said. Fentanyl is dangerous because it is much more potent, he said. “The kid is addicted by the second or third hit of heroin,” he said.
Golden added that he believes there are not enough rehab centers.
On another topic, Golden said senior citizens need help making ends meet. He is pushing a bill that would ensure that senior citizens do not have to pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent. He also worked on a bill to raise the maximum income from $50,000 to $58,000 under the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program. The change allows more seniors to qualify for SCRIE.
“You name it, we’re on top of it,” Golden told the Eagle.
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