State on BQE fix: Failure IS an option

The Brooklyn Paper

The planned rehabilitation of the crowded and dangerous section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO — a roadway that includes a stretch with 10 times more accidents than the state average — may not bring the aging interstate up to federal highway standards, officials admitted last week.

“To that extent that we can, we’ll bring it up to standards. But sometimes it’s not possible,” said Peter King, the regional program and planning manager for the New York State Department of Transportation.

State transportation officials are in the early stages of a decade-long planning process for a major overhaul of the portion of the BQE that skirts the Brooklyn waterfront, but the complexity of the project may prevent them from raising the road conditions up to all minimum federal regulations.

Between Sands Street and Atlantic Avenue — the area due for repair — the highway abuts densely populated neighborhoods, crosses seven subway tunnels, borders the proposed Brooklyn Bridge Park, spans 21 bridges and carries 140,000 vehicles per day. It includes the triple cantilever (world-renowned in engineering circles), the shelf-like, but stressed-out, section beneath the scenic Promenade.

Effects of the tight confines are already evident in the high number of car crashes on this stretch of I-278.

The narrow lanes, short on-ramps and lack of shoulders along the highway make this part of the BQE especially dangerous and agonizingly congested.

Accidents occur at a rate 10 times above the state average for one section near Atlantic Avenue, where there’s a precarious entrance ramp.

Other nearby portions have rates far above the state accident rate, too.

According to the state Transportation Department’s Web site, the $300-million construction project will begin in 2017 and end in 2020, though those dates have been shifting.

Only a small number of people attended two preliminary review sessions on Monday.

Some attendees called for the state to expand the project so treacherous westbound entrances will be rebuilt or, to ease rush-hour commuting, to extend a high-occupancy vehicle lane from the Gowanus Expressway into the BQE.

Another pressing concern that aired again was the possibility of conflict between the highway project and construction of Brooklyn Bridge Park, a possibility raised last fall.

But officials from the state Department of Transportation and Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation have said they are in consultation with each other.

Reader Feedback

Boris from Bay Ridge says:
If that area is not appropriate for a highway, then maybe we don't need a highway? If the $300 went towards the freight railroad tunnel from NJ, we could eliminate the horrendous truck traffic. The remaining traffic volume can be handled by a combination of Atlantic Ave and a single level of the BQE rebuilt as a boulevard with traffic lights.

As usual, our officials are not looking for an overall solution, but want to simply apply a band-aid that gives the least return to the public and the most loot for the construction unions. If it were city officials deciding this, I'd be upset. But since it's the state DOT, I don't expect anything other than idiocy from them anyway.
June 23, 2009, 10:36 am
Jon Shapiro from Connecticut says:
I visited my daughter for her birthday and returned home with a $2500 repair bill on my Mercedes for a blown out rear shocks ( have to replace pairs) and some other suspension damage. Dodging the pot holes on Tillary Street and the BQE requires an H-1 humvee.
June 23, 2009, 12:45 pm
David from Carroll Garders says:
Boris, you are an idiot, get rid of a 6 lane highway that 140k cars use a day...and your solution is atlantic Ave...clearly you are not for the greater good
June 23, 2009, 1 pm
Boris from Bay Ridge says:
David,

No, you're an idiot, but that's beside the point. I guess you just didn't read past the first sentence of my post. What 6 lane highway are you talking about, by the way? That potholed mess where traffic crawls at 30 mph?

I drive on that "highway" quite often (I avoid it when I can, but often that's not possible) and I see that most traffic on it is (1) trucks, (2) locals who need to go to Manhattan or Queens, or (3) out-of-town freeloaders who don't know of alternatives or don't want to pay for them.

The freight tunnel and various public transit improvements for Brooklyn and Staten Island can almost completely eliminate (1) and some of (2). Most of (3) can be eliminated through tolls on the East River bridges, two-way toll on the Verrazano, and better education (ie, take the Belt!). This leaves, let's say, 50,000 cars a day- an amount easily handled by a boulevard-type road much smaller than that 3-level monstrosity.

And anyway, even without the specifics, look at the overall picture- you have trucks roaring through the heart of Brooklyn, without even paying a toll anywhere. The heavy usage results from the BQE being free- and it is those of us who live here who have to pay the price. Of course the state just wants to fix the roads and wash their hands of the whole thing. After all, in Albany us city folk are not even considered people.
June 23, 2009, 3:08 pm
J from Bklyn says:
David, I agree with some of your suggestions, but take the Belt? The Belt!?!? That thing makes the BQE look like the autobahn!

Perhaps you would like to go back to the good old days before they built the Gowanus bypass... Then trucks would be rolling through your neighborhood rather than above it.

Biggest nightmare is going to be that once they start doing this major work, there's going to be a ton of extra traffic in Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Park Slope, Boerum Hill and downtown BK as cars try to avoid the stretch of construction. Wait... The fun is yet to begin.
June 23, 2009, 9:31 pm
freddy from slope says:
j:

depends on which good old days you are talking about.

ratchet back one more era and the above ground rail(lexington ave, myrtle ave, atlantic yards area) used to shuttle goods into and out of brooklyn quite well.

there were fewer and smaller trucks then.

we are quieter now, but something beneficial was lost.
June 24, 2009, 5:43 pm
Bill Harris from Boerum Hill says:
The park developers and NYS Dept of Transportation need to start talking, stop pretending this project is not going to happen.
June 24, 2009, 6:28 pm
Tom from SI says:
I have to drive the Gowanus/BQE combo 4 days a week and I have to say it is a nightmare. I feel bad for the folks who live in the Bklyn neighborhoods that these roads go through. Poor planning decades ago is the reason for the mess we find ourselves in today. The I278 stretch from SI out to the LIE is horrendous. A frieght rail tunnel from NJ to Bklyn would alieviate a good amount of the truck traffic. But do you really believe it will ever be built?

The Port Authroity of NY/NJ was formed with the sole purpose of building that tunnel. I guess they are behind schedule.
June 25, 2009, 2:01 am
Jason from DUMBO says:
There's been a massive influx of money into Brooklyn in the past decade. The fact that they can't figure out how to fix this is laughable (and suspect). They can manage the big dig in Boston, but we can't figure out how to fix a congested, pothole ridden stretch of dangerous highway?! C'mon. They've been throwing money at this thing for YEARS, and it's WORSE now than it was when I moved to DUMBO in 2000. Where's all that money going?!
June 27, 2009, 3:44 pm

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