See it: Rendering of BQE ‘Parallel Highway’ plan released

DOT mulling Brooklyn Heights Association proposal

January 31, 2019 Mary Frost
The Brooklyn Heights Association has released a rendering of its alternative to the city’s controversial plan to temporarily replace the landmarked Heights Promenade with a six-lane highway. The proposal, dubbed the “Parallel Highway” by BHA, can be seen to the right on this rendering. The plan was conceived by Heights-based Marc Wouters Studios. Rendering courtesy of Marc Wouters Studios

The Brooklyn Heights Association has released a rendering of its alternative to the city’s controversial plan to replace the landmarked Heights Promenade with a six-lane highway.

The Promenade plan, preferred by the NYC Department of Transportation, would temporarily raise the interstate — and its pollution — to neighborhood street level during the six- to eight-year $3.4 billion reconstruction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE).

The BHA’s alternate plan, dubbed the “Parallel Highway,” was conceived by Heights-based Marc Wouters Studios. It would move traffic to a temporary two-level structure west of the existing triple cantilever, rather than atop the popular landmarked walkway.

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As previously reported by this paper, experts warn that running the highway over the Promenade could bring the toxic particulate matter released by the 153,000 trucks and cars a day to Brooklyn Heights, affecting the health of residents for years.

In the BHA’s Parallel Highway plan, the six lanes of traffic — three in each direction — would remain below the Promenade level.

“We love the park and worked to create a plan that places the temporary bypass behind the berms in an area that is seldom visited,” Wouters told the Brooklyn Eagle. He said that there may even be parking for parkgoers under the temporary bypass.

Wouters said he was optimistic that DOT would give the plan careful consideration.

“I think we have a good DOT commissioner who appreciates neighborhoods. They have said they are looking at other alternatives including ours. I’m still hopeful a better solution will emerge.”


This map shows the locations of the various temporary BQE highway alternatives being considered by NYC DOT. The Brooklyn Heights Association’s proposal is shown in tan. Map courtesy of Marc Wouters Studios
This map shows the locations of the various temporary BQE highway alternatives being considered by NYC DOT. The Brooklyn Heights Association’s proposal is shown in tan.
Map courtesy of Marc Wouters Studios

A DOT spokesperson told the Heights Press on Wednesday that the agency is “continuing to work with elected officials, the community, and all local stakeholders on the entire project corridor to hear their input.”

Another community group working with BHA on an alternative plan, A Better Way NYC, came out recently with a rendering showing the Promenade highway running above the ramp to the Brooklyn Bridge pedestrian walkway.

DOT told the Heights Press on Wednesday that both DOT’s temporary Promenade plan and the plan presented by the BHA “involve building a structure that passes above the Brooklyn Bridge approach.”

The spokesperson added, “While the two plans do not exactly match each other, they can serve as a basis of the informed discussion that will take place as part of the environmental review process, in which we will review a range of concepts.”

BHA met on November 19 with DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, engineers and officials to present their plan. The rendering of the design, however, was not released to the public at that time due to technical issues.

The design submitted by BHA offers several advantages, the group said at that time.

“In addition to avoiding the terrible impacts of DOT’s Promenade Highway on numerous residential buildings along Columbia Heights, as well as on 360 Furman, the concept offers other advantages, such as various construction techniques that could accelerate the project’s completion,” BHA said.

The alternative design would impact Brooklyn Bridge Park’s noise-attenuating berms — steep, grass-covered hills — to some extent, but would not affect the park’s usable space, BHA said.

On the downside, the alternative design would entail more temporary lane closures at certain locations than DOT’s preferred plan, making traffic management techniques necessary.

The city also considered another plan which would repair the BQE section by section. DOT says this approach, called the traditional method, would take up to eight years to accomplish, as opposed to roughly six years for the Promenade plan, and would reroute more traffic onto local streets.

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Updated 1/31/19 with comments from designer Marc Wouters.


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