When the Mayor officially endorsed the plan for a Brooklyn-Queens streetcar, the estimated cost to realize the project was pinned at $2.5 billion. Since then there have been plenty of purported roadblocks that some believe could balloon costs further, such as the claims that the 16-mile streetcar route would run entirely through flood zones and require two new bridges. But the latest comes via Crain’s, who reports that the necessary train yard/maintenance facility for the cars may be the size of an entire city block and cost $100 million, which only adds to concerns that the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) may become more of an economic burden than the city can take on. While that may or not be so, proponents maintain that the cars are absolutely necessary. Not only are a number of areas along the BQX’s proposed routes underserved by existing transit, but with all of the new office and residential developments planned for Brooklyn’s waterfront, the fact is, adding additional transit is a necessity, not an option.
The facility is needed to store the 47-car fleet, but to put this in comparison, Portland, Oregon’s 17-car fleet (one of the country’s largest) has a nearly three-acre maintenance yard. Streetcar consultant Rick Gustafson says that, though NYC will have triple the number of cars as Portland, a similar-sized facility should suffice, but an additional two acres would likely be needed to store all the cars. Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, the nonprofit that championed the plan early on, believes building two maintenance facilities at a total cost of $100 million and taking up roughly five acres is most realistic. And as Crain’s notes, Mayor de Blasio has said the streetcar line would be built in phases, meaning that whatever area gets serviced first would also need to hold the yard. With all of these logistical concerns and costs, what’s your opinion of the plan now? Is this the best way to remedy growing transit woes?
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