Pol: Brooklyn Bridge Park development put Promenade in the crosshairs

Brooklyn Bridge Park seen from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Pols and the Brooklyn Heights Association are saying the waterfront park should not have been built before the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway was first fixed.
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City and state officials should never have let developers build their luxury condos and swanky hotel inside Brooklyn Bridge Park knowing that they would one day interfere with rebuilding the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway’s crumbling triple cantilever above it, according to a Brooklyn Heights pol who urged the city to consider every option possible before turning the beloved Promenade into a speedway for cars and trucks.

“The city and state together built out Brooklyn Bridge Park and so you have like the new Pier 1 development, the hotel and Pierhouse — kind of right past where the cantilever ends, also the berms — and all those things were built out over the last seven or eight years, and at the time a number of us were saying, ‘This is going to be a problem when they have to rebuild the BQE,’ ” Councilman Stephen Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights) said during an interview with WNYC on Thursday. “The city, the state, and federal government all deserve a fair amount of blame for letting deterioration happen as long as it has.”

Levin echoed his constituents’ pleas to nix the idea of building a six-lane highway on the Heights’s historic walkway during reconstruction of the 70-year-old triple cantilever as part of the city’s so-called “innovative approach,” and instead looked at laying down the asphalt on the nearly fully developed waterfront meadow’s multi-million-dollar berms.

“Using parts of Brooklyn Bridge Park, that would be a shame, but the berm area, if that’s needed to do this less impactfully to the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, it needs to be looked at,” said Levin, who took office in 2010, on the radio show. “I’d like to explore any and every option that might be available.”

And on Tuesday, the influential Brooklyn Heights Association followed suit, coming out against the local Department of Transporta­tion’s clearly favored option of doing away with the Promenade for six years to make way for a highway, telling officials to take it “off the table” and go back to the drawing board, including looking more closely at the park’s man-made hills — which Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said she would now do.

“The innovative approach is a six-lane highway feet from peoples’ windows,” said the civic group’s executive director Peter Bray. “Putting it where the berm is in the park would put it at a much greater distance and not at the same elevation as peoples’ apartments.”

Bray also pointed a finger at City Hall and the state for green-lighting the much-maligned development inside the park’s Pier 1 and 6, knowing full well that the polarizing residential towers and buildings would inhibit engineers from having sufficient access to the expressway when it finally came time to rebuild it.

“I particularly hold the DeBlasio Administration and state responsible for allowing the developer to proceed on Pier 1 and Pier 6, knowing that this was coming down the pike. Those would have been ideal sites for construction staging,” he said. “It’s severely constrained a number of options, it’s narrowed the corridor in which the construction work can take place.”

In 2008, the state’s Department of Transportation planned to start repairing the then-only 60-year-old highway by 2020 — two years after it initially promised — but ultimately put the kibosh on it, saying in 2011 that the massive project was too costly.

And even then, before much of the lawn had been built, locals feared how the impending construction on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway would interfere with the park.

“The question remains: how much of ‘Brooklyn Bridge Park’ is going to be co-opted for construction access to support rebuilding the BQE,” said resident Bill Harris a decade ago.

Nonetheless, developers broke ground on their controversial projects in 2013, after getting the green light from the city, which should never have given its approval if it thought about the predicament it would be in today, according to Bray.

“It’s not unexpected, the city does not do a good job of planning,” he said.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 4:12 pm, October 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Frank from Furter says:
the money set aside in 2008 to reconstruct the BQE was taken to build the replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge..Thank you Governor Cuomo.
Oct. 8, 2018, 5:43 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Well shoulda-coulda-wouldda...
Oct. 8, 2018, 7:34 am
NIMBY from Everywhere! says:
Sure, put all six lanes of traffic right into Fulton Ferry Landing and through DUMBO! That's the ticket!
Oct. 8, 2018, 9:09 am
Moses Kestenbaum ODA from Williamsburg says:
How about floating barges in the east river? Barges are strong enough, the military is using it to ferry tanks and heavy loads over water. Barges all the way along the whole route from somewhere in dumbo all the way on the river till Atlantic Ave
Oct. 8, 2018, 9:34 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
The Tappan Zee was on the verge of collapse, so it was more of a priority than the BQE.
Oct. 8, 2018, 12:07 pm
blogger Bill from from Boerum Hill says:
So where have the valiant planners been when the Cantilever was crumbling? Regional Plan Association are you listening--your director was all on board with the BQX on Furman Street until at the last minute Polly said it was taken. Saved by the bell. Lots of blame to go around, city state and federal. Now the wolf is at the door, as it were. Sky hooks? floating bridges? And traffic getting heavier every day. Hey, let's take another look at tunneling. Have you read the 68 page report on the DOT website that says tunneling is feasible. Lots has changed since report issued several years ago. NYCDOT lets look again--nothing else looks quite so workable now that you think about the benefits. A little more expensive, but do it now and don't have to do it again in 70, 85, 100 years or perhaps forever.
Oct. 8, 2018, 4:43 pm
Boris from Borough Park says:
Let’s just think positively about the situation. And stay away from the BQE for about 10 years.
Oct. 8, 2018, 6:26 pm
Judi Francis from Cobble Hill says:
Sky hooks? Love that, Bill! Bottom line: We need to improve traffic throughput not just repair failing infrastructure. For the super-talls that will line piers 7-12 and those in other parts of the area, too. A tunnel, not to replace the triple cantilevered roadbed, but to efficiently move non-local traffic through. A straight line under the borough where bedrock actually makes it easier (for the new boring equipment), to aid in carbon recapture as that science advances (see UN study released just yesterday), with fewer miles for trucks to travel, and tolled to pay for itself. Then, fix the current roadbed, downgrading it to a parkway (and relieving some repair challenges caused by trucks that make pontooning and other options impossible). Having better transportation at the end of this should be a goal.
Oct. 9, 2018, 4:03 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
The BQE isn't going to be removed just because you anti-car fanatics want it to. Where exactly is all the commercial traffic going to relocated to should that happen? My guess is that none of you really thought about that, which why you lost on getting rid of the Sheridan Expressway. BTW, interstate highways were actually built to handle such vehicles as parkways never were. Making it a tunnel is both unrealistic and expensive not to mention that there are utilities and subway lines that run underneath that will be interrupted should that happen. There's also a chance that it won't be environmentally friendly, which is why the Westway was scrapped on we wound up with the current West Side Highway instead. One other thing, highways weren't originally created to promote a car culture, they were created to react to an already existing group. On a side note, keep in mind what happened to the Big Dig not too long after it opened especially when those in charge wanted to save a lot and cut corners, which is another reason not to have a tunnel replacement.
Oct. 9, 2018, 12:56 pm
Andrew Porter from Brooklyn Heights says:
Tal Barzilai: "...why you lost on getting rid of the Sheridan Expressway..." But I just read this week that the Sheridan Expressway has been demapped by the Feds, so that's a win, not a loss for locals. And highways, specifically the Interstate Highway System, was created by the Eisenhower Administration to initially move military equipment around the country, after Eisenhower saw Germany's Autobans during World War 2.
Oct. 9, 2018, 1:53 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
In what kind of flat earth society hellscape is losing a major expressway considered a win? I’m sure heat and indoor plumbing are next on the moonbats list of things to remove.
Oct. 9, 2018, 8:20 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Andrew Porter, the point is that the BQE isn't going away anytime soon. No matter how much some of you anti-car fanatics despise it, there is still a need for it. The most important part is where all the relocated commercial traffic will be relocated to should it be gone, and that doesn't have too much support of going to local streets. Since tunneling is pretty much out of the question, it will need to be repaired. As for the Sheridan Expressway, I haven't heard anything about it being demapped, so until you show proof, I won't believe this.
Oct. 11, 2018, 12:06 pm

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