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City announces community meetings for ‘once-in-a-generation’ BQE redesign

September 19, 2022 Mary Frost
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From brooklyneagle.com

Adams: Meetings kick-o Sept. 28. Neighborhood groups call for oversight and ‘21st century BQE’

Mayor Eric Adams and NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez on Friday released a schedule for a community outreach process that they said will inform the city’s “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to redesign sections of the crumbling Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE). The meetings will kick off September 28.

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The process will look at redesigning not only the dangerously deteriorated stretch of the highway from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street, which includes the triple-cantilevered underpinning for the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, but also will explore transforming the corridor north and south of that section, “reconnecting communities needlessly divided by the creation of the highway,” and restoring equity, Adams and Rodriguez said in their statement.

Community engagement will include in-person and remote public workshops as well as a public survey, pop-up outreach in neighborhoods along the BQE corridor, meetings with community stakeholder groups, and updated online resources.

Funding will be made avail- able to community-based organizations, according to Adams and Rodriguez. These resources will prioritize work that “promotes equitable access” to the visioning process. An application will be released later in September.

The administration is also launching a BQE Community Visioning Council to advise NYC- DOT. which will include one representative per organization, with the goal of developing a diverse membership.

Even before the community engagement meetings kick off, NYCDOT is already planning to bring in multiple community engagement and engineer- ing companies, including WSP USA Inc., WXY Architecture and Urban Design, and agency 3×3.

NYCDOT also retained the Triple-Cantilever Joint Venture for design and planning for BQE Central, working with AECOM USA, Inc., Parsons Transportation Group of New York, Inc., AKRF, Inc., Bjarke Ingels Group, Fitzgerald and Halliday, Inc., SCAPE Landscape Architecture and others.

BQE Central and BQE North and South

The city has dubbed the dangerously deteriorated section of the highway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street “BQE Central.” Reconstruction of the BQE Central section will start within five years, Adams and Rodriguez promised.

The “BQE North and South” project engagement will look at strategies to reconnect communities north of Sands Street to the Kosciusko Bridge and south of Atlantic Avenue to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge. This would include the infamous BQE “ditch” which separates Cobble Hill and Carol Gardens from the Columbia Waterfront, along with other communities which have suffered for decades from increased pollution and safety risks after being divided by the highway.

Adams and Rodriguez said the BQE North and South project would look at creating public spaces like parks and plazas, and “providing new mobility options for commuting, recreation, and commerce.” As the north and south sections of the BQE are state-owned property, the NYCDOT must engage with the state DOT on the project.

“It’s time to take a new approach to the BQE and ‘Get Stuff Done,’” Adams said in the statement. “Our administration is seizing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to partner with communities and develop a bold vision for a safe and resilient BQE. Together, we are finally confronting the racism built into our infrastructure and putting equity front and center to modernize this vital transportation artery now.”

“We are getting to work immediately,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi.

“We must reckon with the harm these 20th century highways have caused communities of color in New York City,” said NYCDOT Commissioner Rodriguez.


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