Fix the BQE!

for The Brooklyn Paper
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We wuz robbed.

Last week’s decision by the Cuomo administration to halt the reconstruction of the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway’s crumbling triple-cantilever section under Brooklyn Heights is not merely a decision that will result in a tragic human toll, but is a classic example of the failures of government officials to protect and serve the public over the long term.

In issuing the order to terminate the early phase of the multi-year project, state officials cited other, more-pressing, priorities for limited taxpayer dollars.

We understand the importance of making tough calls; that’s why this page tends to endorse public officials who are capable of making them.

But there is a difference between making tough calls and pretending that craven decisions are tough calls. And that is what state officials have done in canceling preliminary work on the 20-year-long project.

The portion that was eliminated represented just $1.2 million in state funds, the dust that falls off the chump change in the state’s $130-billion budget. But by pulling the plug, the state ensures that the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway repairs cannot be done in time for the roadway’s likely collapse.

A simple review of the facts reveals the extent of the state’s incompetence:

• The roadway is operating more than 20 years beyond its expected life and has serious safety deficiencies already.

• It carries 160,000 cars and trucks per day — far more than it was carrying when it opened in 1949.

• Such factors make it difficult to find a comprehensive repair strategy. This kind of thing takes time.

• Transportation officials admit that the roadway’s structural integrity will reach a critical point within 10 years.

• Thanks to the cancellation of the preliminary work, a new roadway will no longer be in place before that 10-year deadline. Indeed, even before the work was cancelled last week, state officials were concerned that repairs would not be completed before the roadway would crumble.

If you consider all those facts, the inescapable conclusion is that an investment must be made — now! — to ensure that repairs are completed on time.

But politicians (and, let’s be fair, the voters who don’t hold them accountable) have always had a problem with spending today on projects that someone else will get to cut the ribbon on. But the same pols have no problem taking credit when they do the right thing.

A month ago, for example, Gov. Cuomo cut the ribbon on a new bridge between two tiny towns in upstate and neighboring Vermont.

“Today’s [ceremony] demonstrat­es,” the governor said in his loftiest oratory, “that, once again, New York State government can work effectively and efficiently for the people.”

If it was only true, Andrew. If it was only true.

Posted 12:00 am, December 8, 2011
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Reasonable discourse

al pankin from downtown says:
the decesion to stop funding this project is a joke, this road is a's worn out..the state of New York wastes more money in an hour running a homeless shelter. the people who pay the taxes always get the short end of the stick...
Dec. 8, 2011, 7:49 am
StevenRosenberg from ParkSlope says:
Insanity is when you do the sameWaiting for confirmation thing again and again, expecting a different outcome. So let's keep electing Democrats.
Dec. 8, 2011, 8:08 am
ty from pps says:
Al - You're a pleasant person, aren't ya? "the state of New York *wastes* more money in an hour running a homeless shelter"

So, I probably won't see you on the 6 o'clock news happily volunteering at a soup kitchen this Christmas, eh?
Dec. 8, 2011, 10:04 am
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
Brooklyn gets screwed again. They can spend $10 billion to replace the Tappanzee Bridge. 4 Billion for a transit hub in Manhattan but not a cent for the major thoroughfare to bring food and trucks to Brooklyn and Queens...yes I know its not the commuters from Long Island and Westchester who vote...
Dec. 8, 2011, 10:56 am
Richard from DUMBO says:
"But politicians (and, let’s be fair, the voters who don’t hold them accountable) have always had a problem..." Yup, another big blunder by the blunderer himself, Senator Squadron. Add to the list his endorsement of condos in our public parks (despite his campaigning against housing in a park in his district) in return for getting a recreational bubble (see BP Bubble Burst), not. Hope voters will hold this guy accountable!
Dec. 8, 2011, 2:44 pm
Luciano from Wycoff says:
Everybody wants government to fund things, but nobody wants their taxes to go up to pay for it.
Does Brooklyn want a special assessment placed on them just to fund this project---didn't think so.

I've read where just the simple rehabilitation of the cantilever structure would cost $254 Million and the tunnels would cost Billions.

Do you really think New York State will pay Billions for a tunnel in Brooklyn when they can give more money to education or hospitals and have everyone in the State benefit ?

The Tappen Zee is a toll bridge, so they have revenue to offset the rehab; as we well know there is no toll on the BQE.

If you have cojones, ask Senator Squadron to pass a bill to toll the BQE for this project and see what his answer is.

Having Brooklyn pride is one thing; having the money to back it up is another.
Dec. 8, 2011, 3:59 pm
JohnQ from Brooklyn says:
Luciano-- FYI the largest share of the BQE repair would have been paid for by the Feds, not NYS-- and a tunnel could, would and should be tolled. Further, a genuine reconstruction or rehab might be less costly over the long run than years of band aid repairs along with the attendant back-ups that will mire Brooklyn's surface streets with the overflow for the foreseeable future. The BQE is a FEDERAL INTERSTATE HIGHWAY.
Dec. 8, 2011, 5:47 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The BQE will need to be fixed reguardless of how much it will cost. It just can't be left there. However, because this is an interstate highway, it will need a lot of funding by the federal government, and this is the case for all interstate on US highways, so JohnQ is right about that. Also, the BQE is heavily used, so it can't be ignored. I would like to see a construction that won't be needed to be done again the next couple of years or in a decade, because that seems to be constant lately. As for tolls, the I-278 does have tolls on all the bridges that are part of it that include the RFK, VN, and Goethals Bridges. I would rather not have it as a tunnel, because that would be very costly, and let's not forget what happened in Boston when they first did the Big Dig and it leaked causing for the entire thing to be redone, so I would rather it just be rennovated instead, because it will probably be cheaper.
Dec. 8, 2011, 6:13 pm
Luciano from Wycoff says:
JohnQ--Neither The Federal nor the State Governments have billions to spend on a tunnel in Brooklyn. Period.

The President and Congress are talking about cutting the budget not adding billions in new spending.

I think the Feds pay 75% and the State 25% of these kind of federal transportationprojects.

That is why the State and Federal Highways Department cancelled the EIS--they don't have the money to complete the project after the study is complete.
Dec. 8, 2011, 7:50 pm
thomas lawrence from brooklyn heights says:
How about taxing the wealthiest top 1/100% of wealth- holders in this country who do not pay their fair share of taxes, and perhaps, in many cases, no taxes at all! That group are billionaires! not millionaires! Read David Cay Johnston's book "Perfectly Legal" (about tax gimmicks) and his other book about federal subsidies to individuals i.e. millions to private developers of golf courses in CA. Seems to me there IS money out there; it just isn't being collected, and certainly not redistributed fairly. That's what the OWS movement is all about. When was the last time you saw the word "public" or "citizen" in the newspaper? The corporatocracy is starving the commons.
Dec. 8, 2011, 11:31 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Believe it or not, making the BQE a tunnel will most likely cost more than just repairing it as is. High costs was one of the reasons why the Westway, which was supposed to replace the original Miller Highway portion of NY 9A. Another reason why the Westway got nixed was because there were environmental problems especially with using pylons for it. Instead, a grade level portion such as the West Side Highway was done instead. However, I don't see this happening for any part of the BQE. Again, the Big Dig in Boston didn't just cost a lot, though the Westway would have been a lot more, it was found to be poorly done and leaked not too long after opening, and nobody wanted a similar event like that here.
Dec. 9, 2011, 11:16 am
SkyRoller from WrightHere says:
People are going to have to start learning to fix the roads themselves.
Dec. 10, 2011, 7:51 pm
Daquan13 from East Boston says:
I'd just wish they could fix my BBQ/

Tal Barzilai, why are you commenting on Boston when you don't know Jack-all? What exactly is your problem?
Stop harassing and personally attacking me. Enough is enough! This is the third post that you've tried to humiliate me with.

Your just an Internet Schoolyard Bully / drama queen out for a few kicks. For the last time, please, leave me alone! You provide no constructive info here on the WTC rebuild, streetsblogger, Ratner or the WNBA. Why don't you try reading some of my previous posts for yourself, and see if your half-baked theory is true. I think not.
Jan. 17, 2012, 5:18 pm
jim from brooklyn says:
why make the state pay for it when the fed gov will?
June 26, 2016, 4:12 pm

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