BQE repair plan could block view of NYC skyline from Brooklyn Heights

January 28, 2019

Rendering courtesy of A Better Way NYC

One of the city’s plans to rehabilitate a 1.5 mile stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) includes building an elevated highway next to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. But opponents of the repair plan, which requires the pedestrian promenade to close during construction, say the roadway would block views of the Manhattan skyline. Renderings created for activist group A Better Way NYC shows how an overpass would block sweeping views of the city, as the New York Post reported.

Before and after the proposed overpass is built; rendering by Tangram 3DS courtesy of A Better Way NYC

Last September, the city’s transportation department announced two options to repair the Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO section of the BQE. One plan would divert cars to an elevated highway next to the promenade and take six years to complete, with the other replacing the BQE lane by lane over eight years. Both plans would require the Brooklyn Heights Promenade to close temporarily.

The city has expressed a preference for the quicker, six-year plan because it would result in slightly fewer traffic backups. Plus, officials said the platform could serve as a 35-foot extension of the promenade itself.

Critics of the project have called on DOT officials to rethink the BQE repair plan, citing air and noise pollution, as well as the closure of the beloved promenade. And opponents say two NYC landmarks, One World Trade Center and Frank Gehry’s 8 Spruce Street skyscraper, would be obscured from view.

Hilary Jager, a spokesperson for A Better Way NYC, told 6sqft in an email: “The city’s ill-conceived closed-door plan won’t just dump pollution onto the doorsteps of thousands of families, it’ll desecrate two New York City icons. Our City and State leaders need to heed the growing calls to go back to the drawing board and find a better way.”

An alternative plan proposed by BHA; via Marc Wouters Studios

A rendering of the BHA proposal to create a two-tiered bypass, leaving the promenade open; Via Marc Wouters Studios

Along with a Better Way NYC, the Brooklyn Heights Association presented in November an alternative plan that would not require the promenade to temporarily shutter. The plan, developed by Marc Wouters Studios, would involve building a two-tiered structure west of the triple cantilever, instead of building a highway on the promenade. This would allow for the promenade to remain open during construction.

A DOT spokesperson told the Post: “We are continuing to work with elected officials, the community, and all local stakeholders on the entire project corridor to hear their input. “Our top priorities are safety, reducing congestion and limiting impact on local communities.”

When DOT first announced its plan to revamp the BQE in 2016, the $1.7 billion project was estimated to be the most expensive project ever completed by the agency. Current estimates now stand at more than $3 billion.


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