BQE planners take Heights off the hit list

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

State officials have slammed the brakes on a controversial plan to eviscerate part of historic Brooklyn Heights in order to modernize the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, conceding on Wednesday night that the shocking scheme is untenable.

A week after our exclusive report that the state was considering condemning buildings in the northern part of the neighborhood as part of a long-term project to widen the roadway, the Department of Transportation announced that it would simply need to buy too many homes and businesses near Willow and Middagh streets.

When they finally did a ground survey, state inspectors discovered that 300-400 residential units and 80 commercial properties would need to be condemned, admitted Peter King, a project manager overseeing the $300-million first phase of the renovation of the BQE between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street.

“You cannot talk about an alternative that runs roughshod in a neighborhood, regardless of what benefits you might have,” King told a stakeholders group that met at St. Francis College on Remsen Street.

The announcement drew sighs of relief through the Heights and beyond.

“This would have been an environmental disaster,” said Remsen Street resident Stephen Wood.

Aaron Karp said he was considering buying a condo in One Brooklyn Bridge Park on Furman Street — until he learned that the tony building may have been clipped by a widened BQE.

“I’m relieved tonight,” he said.

The eminent domain scenario was part of an array of designs being considered by the state on its way to hatch a final plan to reconstruct the triple-cantilever portion of the BQE, which was built more than 50 years ago and is well into its death throes.

But just because homes in the northern Heights have been saved, doesn’t mean that eminent domain is off the table.

That’s because other possible scenarios to cure the aging highway include lower-impact designs that would involve little new construction and no property takings, but also three tunnel alignments that would involve property takings at the south end of the tube, at Kane Street in Cobble Hill, and at the northern portal at North Portland Avenue in Fort Greene.

“Depending on what we do, there may need to be takings,” King said. “Eminent domain is a tool, but taking away property is a very serious issue.”

Indeed, when the BQE was first constructed in 1954, historic Brooklyn Heights homes on Columbia Heights were razed to make room for the highway.

But King said the agency plans to proceed very cautiously.

“Let’s just say that it has been used before — and let’s not make any assumptions if it can be used again,” he said.

A final configuration and design isn’t due until 2018, with construction to begin shortly thereafter. Final costs are unknown.

“No matter what we do, it ain’t going to be cheap,” King said.

Updated 5:18 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Moshe Aron Kestenbaum from Williamsburg ODA says:
Kudos and congratulations to ya all. The valiant efforts by so many regarding this near tragedy of the distruction of mant historic brownstones is a non issue now. Reason has triumphed
June 24, 2010, 8:02 am
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
I said this was a red herring and so it was. Now lets see what they really want to do...
June 24, 2010, 11:05 am
Bob from Brooklyn Heights says:
Don't bank on it.

And get ready for the traffic on Hicks and Henry streets.
June 24, 2010, 12:31 pm
Shimele Weiser from The UJO says:
The dominant strain of current urban and transport planning is all one big MISGUIDED URBAN POLICY disaster and calamity or better its a man-made catastrophe. It is a man made hazard
June 24, 2010, 2:16 pm
Mike from GP says:
Let's just demolish the BQE. Highways and cities do not mix.
June 24, 2010, 9:09 pm

Comments closed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: