New Plan Is For Shorter Route Connecting Brooklyn And Queens, But It Will Cost Around 10 Percent More -- $2.7 Billion

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Mayor Bill de Blasio has changed course in his plan to connect Brooklyn and Queens with a streetcar system.

After months of rumors, he made a major announcement Thursday about the proposed project, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported Thursday.

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A new route is in place, starting in Astoria and ending in Red Hook, and there’s a more expensive price tag to build it. The federal government would have to come up with $1 million to close a financial gap. The mayor, though, is still defending and touting his new streetcar plan.

“It’s really hard to get in and out of Red Hook,” resident Jahmelia Lessey said.

That’s a statement echoed by many living and working in that part of Brooklyn.

“It’s really trendy and awesome, but it’s hard to get to,” said Dan Haer, who works in Brooklyn.

The proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar. (Credit: Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector)

Red Hook and Gowanus are known to be a public transit desert, but that soon may all change.

“I think it’s a good deal because it’s the shape of things to come,” de Blasio said.

MOREDe Blasio To Call For Streetcar Line Along Brooklyn, Queens Waterfronts

On Thursday, the mayor announced the city will move forward with the proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector — also known as the BQX streetcar system. Crews will begin construction following the completion of a two-year feasibility study.

“We need more mass transit and the center gravity of the city is moving to Brooklyn and Queens and I think it’s a good deal because it’s created with a combination of federal funding and revenue that would only be there because this would exist,” de Blasio said.

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However, the mayor’s new plan is different than the one he first unveiled two years ago. Instead of 16 miles, it will now be 11, yet will cost almost 10 percent more, about $2.7 billion.

And rather than starting construction in 2019, it would now begin in 2024, and the streetcar system is expected to start running in 2029. It’s a long wait, but the mayor defended his plan.

“Compared to any place in the country, this would be one of the most densely populated light-rail corridors in the entire country,” de Blasio said.

The idea to connect the two boroughs is already drawing some backlash from the community.

“It might affect parking,” Red Hook resident Nicholas Sullivan said.

“It’s kind of nice that the neighborhood doesn’t have a lot of people visiting,” added Cristina Zubillaga, who works in Brooklyn.

But Jessica Schumer, the director with the organization “Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector,” said it will only help.

“We know transit is the lifeblood of New York City and the more we have, the more access we have to opportunity,” Schumer said.

She said the new system will connect New Yorkers with jobs, parks and schools. and stood firm that this system is “not” affiliated with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“This is transit for New York City, by New York City. We can’t wait for the MTA to solve all of our transit problems. Yes, we need to fix our subways and buses, but we need to do more than that. We need to expand our transit,” Schumer said.

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And speaking of the MTA, the streetcar is expected to cost you the same money to ride the subway or bus — $2.75. Organizers said they are hopeful that one day you can get a free transfer.