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Traffic nightmares on local streets: BQE plans released

Repairs will shut down the crumbling highway nights and three weekends

September 15, 2022 Mary Frost
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Emergency repairs on a crumbling section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway will mean closing most of the busy highway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street during three weekends and an unspecified number of nights between March and October of 2023. 

Traffic from the BQE, which carries more than 150,000 vehicles a day, will be rerouted along streets including Atlantic, Third, Fourth and Flatbush avenues and smaller local streets, according to a Department of Transportation slide show distributed to local community groups. The diverted traffic will include tractor trailer trucks and other oversized commercial vehicles. 

DOT is urging commuters to use alternate means of transportation if possible. Entrance ramps to the affected section of the BQE will be closed and traffic will be diverted.  Traffic agents and pedestrian managers will be placed at key intersections. 

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DOT says it is coordinating with FDNY, NYPD and EMS, and Emergency Services will be stationed in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

These repairs are designed to shore up the deteriorated triple cantilever underpinning the Brooklyn Heights Promenade until the city and state settle on a full redesign — a massive, years-long project that will require the cooperation of the city, state and federal government.

DOT engineers told Brooklyn residents in 2017 that this section of the BQE from Sands Street to Atlantic Avenue is so decrepit it needs to be replaced before 2026, or tens of thousands of trucks daily will be rerouted through Brooklyn’s residential streets. Next year, residents will get a taste of what that entails.

These sections of the BQE will be targeted by the NYC Department of Transportation for repairs in 2023. Graphic courtesy of DOT

Fixing the concrete and rebar

There are three major sites on the BQE targeted for work in 2023. These include concrete and rebar repairs of the deck, column and beam in the Clark Street Fan Plant area; the BQE deck at Grace Court; and the foundation of the Joralemon Street Garage. 

The Brooklyn Heights Promenade will remain open during this work.  DOT says it will be providing noise and dust mitigation. 

Preparation work for each weekend segment, involving removing deteriorated concrete and adding steel plates for support, will take place at night. The BQE will remain open, but traffic will be shifted while some lanes are closed to accommodate the work. 

Queens-bound traffic will be affected the most during the construction, according to DOT. 

During the first full weekend of work, one lane will remain open in the Staten Island-bound direction, but all Queens-bound lanes will be closed, with BQE traffic exiting at Atlantic Avenue. 

During the second and third full weekends, all Queens-bound lanes will be closed, with BQE traffic exiting at Atlantic Avenue. All travel lanes in the Staten Island-bound direction will remain open.

This slide shows the detours for Staten Island-bound traffic for the first weekend only.

Traffic to be rerouted

Staten Island-bound traffic will be rerouted from Flushing Avenue along Washington, Atlantic and Third avenues; or from Sands Street along Gold Street, Flatbush and Fourth avenues. Another detour will run from Vine to Furman streets.

Queens-bound traffic will be rerouted along Atlantic Avenue to Boerum Place and Tillary Street;  Third and Flatbush avenues to Tillary Street; and Gowanus Expressway to Hicks Street, Atlantic Avenue to Boerum Place/Adams Street to Tillary Street.

Connections to the Nassau, Van Wyck and Long Island expressways will be routed along the Prospect Expressway, Caton Avenue and Linden Blvd., which will affect freight traffic. (Some lane changes will take place on the Manhattan side of the Manhattan Bridge as well.)  

Some local streets in Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill will be reconfigured during these weekends, with turn restrictions at Hicks and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights, and lane reconfigurations along Furman Street in Brooklyn Heights, and Clinton Street in Cobble Hill.

This slide shows the detours for Queens-bound BQE traffic during the second and third weekend of work.

Detours will begin on Saturday at 2 a.m. and end on Monday at 4 a.m. 

The contract for the immediate repairs is expected to be awarded during the last quarter of 2022, according to DOT’s presentation.

While Brooklyn Heights is bracing for the onslaught, an increase in the amount of freight traffic rumbling through Brooklyn’s already clogged streets is also worrisome to residents of Sunset Park and Red Hook. Assemblymember Robert Carroll, whose District 7 includes much of Sunset Park and Windsor Terrace, is organizing a joint meeting with DOT, Community Boards 12 and 14, and City Council Members Shahana Hanif and Rita Joseph  about the upcoming work. (To learn more, RSVP to Assemblyman Robert Carroll’s Office by email: [email protected] or call 718-788-7221.) 

In June, Mayor Eric Adams said he wanted to discard former Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 20-year plan to patch up the decrepit sections of the BQE, and instead take advantage of the Biden administration’s federal infrastructure funds to kick off a massive renovation project within five years. 

For the full slide show, please visit: www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/bqe-public-outreach-interim-repairs.pdf


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