NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Many New York drivers know first hand that the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is in desperate need of repairs.
City officials are trying to change that, but it will come with a huge cost, CBS2’s Christina Fan reported Tuesday.
Frustrated by years of delays and half-baked plans, people packed a city council Transportation Oversight Committee hearing Tuesday eager to hear the newest ideas on repairing the crumbling BQE.
“It needs repair. It wasn’t built to manage the amount of traffic that it’s currently is managing,” Brooklyn resident Janet O’Sullivan said.
Officials are considering two options offered by an engineering and design firm. One would turn the BQE into a capped street-level highway with an extension of Brooklyn Bridge Park going over the road.
The second option would turn the expressway into a three-mile tunnel.
“Well, these plans are more innovative and they talk about actually doing something in a way that moves away from spending billions of dollars for the status quo,” Council Speaker Corey Johnson said.
Both options are pricey. The capped highway is estimated to cost $3.2 billion, while the tunnel could run up to $11 billion.
But the two ideas seem more popular than the city’s controversial proposal back in 2018 that would have replaced the promenade with a temporary six-lane BQE bypass.
Some neighbors are still fuming over that idea.
“There’s got to be another way to do it than to take the promenade and make it to a six-lane highway. And they said for five years? Don’t hold your breath. It will be forever,” resident John Copsteen said.
“We need to bring a fresh, innovative approach and thinking to this problem and we need to fundamentally rethink the role of highways in New York City. That is what we are doing here today,” Johnson said.
It’s unclear when a decision will be made, but city officials don’t have much time to waste. Without an overhaul, experts say parts of the BQE could become unsafe for traffic within five years.