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Ditch Rx now - New study looks at BQE

The Brooklyn Paper
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A new study may not repair the chasm carved out by the Brooklyn Queens Expressway—but it might just gussy it up considerably.

The hope is that the initiative, led by the city’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC), will generate ideas from the community for “fixing the ditch,” an eyesore that when constructed over half a century ago destroyed the geographic continuity that once existed between Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and the Columbia Street Waterfront District.

“The Brooklyn Queens Expressway Mitigation Study is an important step toward improving safety and providing increased access to the waterfront,” said Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez, who helped secure the funding for the study back in 2006.  

“Using a variety of solutions like planted buffers, overhanging walkways and pedestrian crossing bridges, we can reduce noise and pollution and reconnect neighborhoods on both sides of the BQE,” she added.

According to the EDC, solutions may include projects such as, green planted buffers, overhanging walkways and pedestrian crossing bridges. 

“Ultimately, the project will greatly benefit the community and enhance the surrounding region by developing a pedestrian transportation network, improving air quality, decreasing noise pollution, expanding recreation options, and providing safe pedestrian access to and from the nearby waterfront,” an agency spokesperson added.

EDC spokesperson Janel Patterson said her agency plans to issue a request for proposals (RFP) in the next few months for a consultant to perform preliminary design work. She said she won’t know the amount of funding for the study until next month.

Dan Wiley, a community coordinator for Velazquez told the Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association, said the amount appropriated was $300,000.

“We know its getting studied in 2009,” Wiley said. “That’s good news.”

The trench has long been a source of consternation for local residents and civic groups.

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, there existed a plan to build a deck over the area between Union Street to Sackett Street, and one block south from Union to President Street. But concern over pollution that car emissions would belch out at Sackett and President led local residents to balk at the plan.

The BQE, built in the 1950’s and completed in 1964, was the brainchild of master builder Robert Moses.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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