Delayed feasibility study for proposed BQX streetcar costing taxpayers at least $7M

Posted On Fri, June 1, 2018 By

Posted On Fri, June 1, 2018 By In Policy, Transportation

Photo via Friends of the BQX

The plan to bring a 16-mile light-rail trolley between Brooklyn and Queens has already cost taxpayers millions of dollars, even before the feasibility of the project has been determined. The study has cost the city $7 million in taxpayer money so far, according to the New York Post. And while the city’s Economic Development Corporation promised to have the study completed last fall, this week the agency said they would not put a timeline on its release.

Mayor Bill de Blasio first backed the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) project in February 2016, but a series of delays and funding concerns have put the trolley on hold. The proposed streetcar was left out of the city’s budget proposal last month, further delaying studies into the project’s plausibility.

“The BQX is a multibillion-dollar, transformational project that would improve transit needs, create jobs and introduce a brand new green transportation system to growing Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods,” EDC spokeswoman Stephanie Baez told the Post. “That’s why we are taking the time necessary to make sure that everything is done right, including finalizing block-by-block analysis.”

De Blasio said the project, first estimated to cost $2.5 billion, would pay for itself through tax revenue from high real estate values from the new streetcar. But last year, a leaked memo obtained by the Daily News and written by Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen laid out a bleak outlook for the BQX, citing concerns about funding and overall logistics.

“Assuming that it does not pay for itself…then we have to decide whether or not this is the right use of capital money for a transportation project,” Glen said in April during a discussion at the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management.

The study, conducted by outside consultants KPMG and WSP, will analyze the property tax revenue the project could create by block. But since the BQX was left out of the EDC’s proposed budget last month, necessary preliminary planning will lack funding needed to continue. Before it enters a public-approval process, the city must fund a design work and an environmental study, both expected to take a year and cost $40 million together, Crain’s reported.

The proposed streetcar would run along the East River, with stops in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Industry City and Long Island City. Friends of the BQX, an advocate group for the project, say the light rail would serve more than 400,000 New Yorkers who live along the proposed routes and 300,000 more who work near them.

[Via NY Post]

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