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State is studying BQE shelf repairs

The Brooklyn Paper
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A wider highway with new connections to the Brooklyn waterfront could replace the deteriorating, always-clogged decked section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that runs under the famed Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

The state Department of Transportation has taken a first step towards fixing the creaky BQE stretch between Atlantic Avenue and the Brooklyn Bridge, officials said this week.

That highway is a 58-year-old reinforced concrete structure that carries six lanes of traffic on two decks.

One hundred and twenty-three thousand vehicles rumble across daily, according to the Federal Highway Administration.

For more than a decade, residents and local officials have complained that the structure is in danger of collapse.

“I don’t know if I would call it creaky,” said Irene Janner, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn Heights Association. “But there are lots of complaints about vibrations. It’s an old thing and it needs to be replaced.”

The highway will get much older before it gets its facelift.

State planners estimate it will take another six or seven years of planning before they can begin construction, which would also take years.

During construction, traffic would likely be diverted to Furman Street — which is meant to be a main access point to the so-called Brooklyn Bridge Park, a condo, hotel and open space development along the waterfront.

That project’s landscape architect, Michael Van Valkenburgh, plans to absorb the highway’s steady rumble with several man-made hills between the development and the highway.

At a public meeting about the waterfront project this week, area residents asked the state to do more to reduce the highway’s roaring impact.

“The most important issue is enclosing the BQE so the noise can be contained,” said Carolyn Konheim, a local traffic consultant.

“It’s so disagreeable already when you are on the Promenade and it will be even worse in the park.”

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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