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Killackey: ‘Little time’ for community to get involved in BQE fix

Urges Brooklyn’s CB2 to ‘go beyond usual review process’

February 15, 2019 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Eagle file photo by Don Evans
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Patrick Killackey, a member of Community Board 2’s transportation committee, warned CB2 members on Wednesday that the deadline for getting involved in the BQE reconstruction process was fast approaching.

Killackey, former president of the Brooklyn Heights Association, asked the full board “to go beyond the usual review process and actually assert an active role” in planning the massive project.

Killackey said NYC Department of Transportation representatives told locals attending a recent “small group” community meeting that the city planned “to prepare a pre-scoping document for review in April or May, followed about six months later, by the end of 2019, with an RFP.”

“So there really is very little time,” he added. “The pre-scoping document itself sets the constraints around what can be designed.”

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CB2’s transportation committee has been seeking additional information about the reconstruction of the BQE between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street for several months. According to CB2 District Manager Robert Perris, DOT has responded that it is not ready for a public presentation.

No recent issue has gripped Brooklyn Heights more than the upcoming reconstruction of a 1.5-mile stretch of the BQE. The city’s favored plan would temporarily replace the beloved Heights Promenade with a temporary six-lane bypass. This would bring the truck-clogged interstate, with its noise and pollution, to neighborhood street level for six to eight years.

Possible benefits

“This project is $3.5 billion, maybe $4 billion — probably a lot more. You do the old multiplication factor,” Killackey said. “There are enormous implications for it, in terms of both the impacts, but also perhaps also the benefits.”

Among the possible benefits are “a bridge, maybe, from Montague to down to [Furman] Street,” he said. Other possible improvements could involve the interchanges from BQE to the [Brooklyn] Bridge, “which will both make it better for pedestrians and better for cars, and also free up a lot of space that’s taken up by these crazy exchanges right now.”

Tolling would reduce traffic

Killackey emphasized that tolling would be a “critical part of the project.”

“I know that’s a controversial topic, and you’re going to be revisiting it soon,” he told the board.

One particular tolling proposal stands out, he said. “The Verrazzano one-way toll not only adds pollution to our neighborhood, but it increases the magnitude of pollution citywide because it’s pumping [trucks] up here, rather than taking a more efficient route to go over the Verrazzano.”

He pointed out a story — broken by the Brooklyn Eagle — that highlighted “the particulate matter that already exists and that would be increased by this project, and that we can address through a better design.”

A better design could decrease the cantilever section of the BQE roadway from six to four lanes, “certainly for the rehabilitation duration and for the future,” he said.

Killackey said he wanted the full board to “assert a role, and not be left in an untimely meaningless part in the process.”

The Brooklyn Heights Association has come up with an alternate proposal that would spare the Promenade. Dubbed the “Parallel Highway,” the plan was designed by Heights-based Marc Wouters Studios. It would move traffic to a temporary two-level structure west of the existing triple cantilever underpinning the Promenade, rather than atop the popular walkway.

The bypass is designed to allow the BQE to remain operational throughout the construction period.

Wouters told the Eagle that he hasn’t heard from DOT in months. DOT told the Eagle it is examining the plan, adding that it is one of several alternatives under consideration.

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