Earlier in the month, 6sqft shared news of a detailed proposal from non-profit advocacy group Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector that called for a Brooklyn-Queens streetcar line to connect “underserved, but booming” areas of the boroughs. The city must’ve been listening, because Mayor de Blasio is expected to announce today in his State of the City speech that he’ll be backing such a proposal. Like the original scheme, the city’s plan will run 16 miles along the East River, from Astoria to Sunset Park, but at a projected cost of $2.5 billion, it will be significantly more expensive than the previous estimate of $1.7 billion, but significantly less than a new underground subway. Not only would the streetcars serve bustling commercial hubs like the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Long Island City, but they’d provide access for about 45,000 public-housing residents.
Members of Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector include Helena Durst of the Durst Organization; Jed Walentas of developer Two Trees; and investor Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures; Regional Plan Association president Tom Wright; traffic engineer “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz; and Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul Steely White. The group formed over the summer, when they hired consulting firm of HR&A Advisors to study the feasibility of a streetcar service or a light rail line along this route.
The city’s cars would operate alongside vehicular traffic (details about barriers are TBD), traveling at about 12 miles per hour. At this speed, a trip from Greenpoint to Dumbo would take roughly 27 minutes, shorter than by subway or bus. And since they’d be on city streets, the project won’t need state approval. According to the Times, “Administration officials believe the system’s cost can be offset by tax revenue siphoned from an expected rise in property values along the route.”
Because the plan would affect so many areas, the neighborhood review process will be long, as will any studies conducted. Therefore, construction likely wouldn’t begin until 2019, with completion not happening until 2024. “This is about equity and innovation. We are mapping brand new transit that will knit neighborhoods together and open up real opportunities for our people,” said de Blasio.
- $1.7B Light Rail Connecting the Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront Proposed
- Feasibility Study to Address Streetcars or Light Rail for Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront
- Will Streetcars Make a Comeback in the Bronx?
- Top 10 Transportation Proposals That Would Transform New York City
Images courtesy of Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector; Map via NYC Mayor’s Office