BQX streetcar plan rears its head, as city announces public meetings and updated timeline

Posted On Fri, January 10, 2020 By

Posted On Fri, January 10, 2020 By In Transportation

Rendering via NYCEDC

The city is once again inching forward with its plan to bring a streetcar to run between Brooklyn and Queens, a problem-plagued $2.7 billion proposal first presented five years ago. The New York City Economic Development Corporation on Thursday launched a new website for the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) with information about public community meetings planned for February and March. According to the website, the city expects a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) on the project to conclude in the spring of 2021, with the final statement ready by that fall. But questions about the logistics of constructing the streetcar’s 11-mile route and its growing price tag.


Proposed BQX route; Courtesy of NYCEDC

In February of last year, the city awarded land-use firm VHB $7.25 million to assess the environmental impacts of the BQX. As it enters the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), NYCEDC and the city’s Department of Transportation said it will hold public workshops to get feedback on the plan and brief elected officials. As of now, five meetings are planned in Downtown Brooklyn, Red Hook, Astoria, Williamsburg/ Greenpoint, and Long Island City, as Brooklyn Reporter reported first.

Following the public workshops, the city expects public hearings to begin in May and June to discuss the conceptual report, with the impact statement finalized in the fall of 2021.

The BQX would connect 12 waterfront neighborhoods between Brooklyn and Queens, from Astoria to Red Hook, which is home to 400,000 New Yorkers. According to officials, the streetcar would connect to 13 subway lines, more than 30 bus routes, nine NYC Ferry landings, and over 100 Citi Bike stations.

The streetcar’s price tag, route, and timeline have all changed since de Blasio first announced the plan in 2016. In a revised proposal unveiled in August 2018, the plan’s cost jumped to $2.7 billion from $2.5 billion, the number of miles was cut from 16 to 11 miles, and the completion date moved back to 2029, from 2024. The city also scrapped five stations planned for Sunset Park after deciding not enough people would use the streetcar.

The mayor claimed the BQX could pay for itself through “value capture,” with tax revenue from increased real estate values providing income. But the city has since backed away from its original funding plan and said it would require more than $1 billion from the federal government to cover the funding gap.

See the most recent proposed BQX route from the city here.

[Via Brooklyn Reporter]

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