Rendering via NYCEDC
The long-delayed plan to bring a light-rail trolley between Brooklyn and Queens has been revived, following the completion of a two-year feasibility study, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday. But the proposal differs from the original idea for the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) the mayor had first released in 2016. The cost of the revised project has jumped to $2.7 billion from $2.5 billion, the number of miles on the route has dropped from 16 miles to 11 miles and the city expects the cars to run by 2029, instead of the original projection of 2024.
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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.
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Photo courtesy of Friends of the BQX
With the unveiling of its inaugural prototype last fall, things were looking up for the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar, a proposed light-rail trolley that would run 16-miles along the East River between the two boroughs. The Friends of the BQX even held an event to show off the ultra-sleek, 46-foot long prototype car. However, studies into the project’s construction feasibility, as well as its ability to pay for itself, are still underway, according to the Daily News. At an event at NYU, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said the administration is still determining the project’s ability to be self-funding.
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Photo of Fairway on the Red Hook waterfront, via CityRealty
The story of Red Hook is ripe for a movie-rights bidding war. In the past, there were mobsters and maritime ports, hurricanes and housing developments. Now there are politicians and developers fighting to rebuild and locals fighting back. In the end, what will happen to Red Hook is unknown but none of the massive proposals will happen in the near future. It is a small community in a big city that is tackling the issue many neighborhoods have dealt with in the past – how to grow.
After the massive Hurricane Sandy rebuilding effort, there is a very solid and passionate local population and a growing cluster of cool restaurants, retailers, and artists attracted to the area. That coupled with the recent political attention by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio and the developers drooling over the possibilities of the 130 acres of land ripe for redevelopment (that’s six times the size of the $25 billion Hudson Yards development) make Red Hook very newsworthy.
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Photo courtesy of Friends of the BQX
A group of public officials and advocates joined the Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) today to unveil the inaugural prototype of the streetcar proposed to run between Astoria and Sunset Park. First backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio in February 2016, the BQX project, expected to cost $2.5 billion, would connect Brooklyn and Queens along the East River. Despite significant setbacks, including a bleak assessment about the finances and logistics of the project from Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen in April, BQX supporters are urging the de Blasio administration to make the project a priority during his second term.
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When a leaked memo about the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) surfaced a couple months ago, it painted a less-than-optimistic picture of the proposed $2.5 billion streetcar due to major construction challenges and doubts that Mayor de Blasio’s plan to self-fund the project through taxes from higher real estate values would pan out. Despite these concerns, however, the Transport Workers Union Local 100 endorsed the 16-mile streetcar project today, according to a press release from Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector.
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Although Mayor de Blasio’s proposed BQX project, which would connect the Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts via streetcar, received praise from many, finding money to fund it may be tougher than expected. Earlier this month, a leaked memo obtained by the Daily News laid out a tough assessment of the construction logistics and financial problems facing the project. And while the mayor admitted last week that his plan for the BQX to be self-funded through tax revenue from higher real estate values may not pan out, an article in Crain’s laid out an idea for the city to sell air rights in the Brooklyn Navy Yard neighborhood to raise money for the project.
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After working for decades advocating for transit equity and environmental justice at various organizations, Ya-Ting Liu came on board as the Executive Director of Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector. It’s been almost a year since the non-profit advocacy group first released a proposal for a streetcar to run along the borough’s waterfront, and since that time the city has stepped in to back the estimated $2.5 billion project, even appointing a director and creating preliminary maps of the streetcar’s possible routes. As one of several transportation undertakings on the table, the BQX certainly has a big year ahead. 6sqft recently sat down with Ya-Ting To get the scoop on what’s to come, as well as some insider thoughts on the streetcar’s common misconceptions.
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Rendering of the streetcar on Berry Street in Williamsburg
When the plan for a streetcar from Brooklyn to Queens was officially announced by the city in February, we knew that the $2.5 billion line would run 16 miles along the East River, from Astoria to Sunset Park, but the exact routes have remained a mystery, up until now. The Times reports that yesterday the city released a 25-page report that outlines these key details, as well as how the streetcar would traverse bridges to cross Newtown Creek and the Gowanus Canal and more logistical details. It also includes maps for the various routes through each neighborhood with a list of pros and cons (road width, proximity to existing subway stations, street and pedestrian traffic) for each possible street.
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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.
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