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Make up before it breaks up: Gov. must forget feud with mayor, let city fix BQE faster, locals say

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They need to work it out so the real work can begin!

Gov. Cuomo must look beyond his public political spats with Mayor DeBlasio and allow the city to use a process that will accelerate its repairs to the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway’s decaying triple cantilever in Brooklyn Heights, local pols and activists demanded during a rally at the foot of Montague Street on Feb. 9.

State lawmakers and local leaders again called on Cuomo to green-light “design-build” — a process that would request one bid for the project’s design and construction instead of hiring unique firms for each phase — weeks after they first demanded he revise his recently unveiled budget to include authorization for it.

“The only obstacle I can see is this rancor between Albany and the city, and that’s just completely unacceptab­le,” said Peter Bray, the head of civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association, which is bussing local advocates up to the state Capitol on March 6. “Our neighborhoods deserve better, and our communities should not be collateral damage to this political fighting.”

Cuomo approved design-build for multiple state-run projects, including the recently built Kosciuszko Bridge and a new span touting his family’s name, so his refusal to allow it in the city-led expressway fix must come down to his schoolyard fight with Hizzoner — which has also included bouts over deer and the subway system — especially because authorizing the process won’t cost the state a dime, the newly elected Council speaker said.

“If it’s good enough for the new Kosciuszko Bridge and the new Mario Cuomo Bridge, why is it not good enough for the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway?” asked Councilman Corey Johnson (D–Manhattan). “It doesn’t make any sense. We should put politics aside.”

Although he said he supports expanding design-build, Cuomo released his first draft of the budget without it on Jan. 16. He had until Feb. 15 to make amendments — including authorization for the process — before both houses in Albany prepare their own fiscal plans that, together with the governor’s, will be used to create a final budget that must be approved by April 1.

Design-build proponents argue it will cut about $113 million from the job’s current $1.9-million price tag, and speed up the reconstruction of the 1.5-mile stretch of expressway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street by at least two years.

Local transit honchos now expect work to begin in 2024 and wrap in 2028, but if Cuomo allows design-build, they say repairs could start as early as 2021 and conclude before 2026 — the year the city will be forced to send the more than 16,000 big-rigs that travel the triple cantilever daily down local streets instead so the three-tiered structure doesn’t collapse beneath them.

Roads including Third and Fourth avenues, and Tillary, Court, Jay, and Columbia streets could all get a massive spike in truck traffic if the vehicles are banished from the expressway, according to the Department of Transportation.

And in addition to saving time, using design-build would conserve funds that could be reinvested into the city’s failing subway system and cash-strapped public-housing complexes, according to another councilman, who attended the rally alongside Borough President Adams, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, and Brooklyn Heights pols including state Sen. Brian Kavanagh and Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon.

“This is insanity, $100 million could be used to address a subway crisis and a heating crisis in New York City Housing Authority buildings,” said Councilman Mark Treyger (D–Coney Island). “I find it outrageous and insulting that they would hijack more than $100 million in public money that could go towards addressing transportation, public-housing, quality-of-life, and public-safety issues because of a high-stakes political game.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 7:57 pm, February 14, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Bob Grobe from Downtown Brooklyn says:
NYCEDC and DOT are also actively planning the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX). Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and take five years to complete. The route, while not finalized, has consistently shown a path through downtown Brooklyn. It's crucial the planners consider the cumulative effects on downtown Brooklyn when the BQE-I278 and BQX construction projects are going on at the same time.
Feb. 12, 5:28 am
Blogger Bill from from Boerum Hill says:
Most informed persons don't see BQX in our
futures. The reasons are too many to
dispute. Bottom line: think about things
we really need and can pay for without
causing the severe pain and dislocation of
BQX. I'm informed the BQX concept leader
has left town for Toronto. Trust he's off
di Blasio payroll.
Feb. 12, 9:20 am
Barbara says:
Bill, Giambrone's Twitter feed and LinkIn pages both still state that he is the director of the BQX project. That said, I agree with you that the project will never be constructed. Bob, DOT has told the folks working on BQX, don't even think of coming anywhere near the Triple Cantilever. The warning is probably a moot point for the reason already stated.
Feb. 12, 11:11 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Mario's hoodlum son thinks the White House is his future, but expect his bank busting past with another house - HUD.

He will frustrate the taxpayer in search of his peeing contest with Comrade Bill
Feb. 12, 2:07 pm
Bob Grobe from Downtown Brooklyn says:
Whether or not the BQX is built has yet to be decided. It's still listed as an active project on the NYCEDC website so I assume NYC is still considering the project: https://www.nycedc.com/project/brooklyn-queens-connector-bqx.

I agree there won't be a physical overlap between the two projects. However, the two projects, together, could produce a traffic nightmare in the downtown for several years.

In discussing traffic the January 17, 2018 BQE-I278 "Draft Scope of Work" details 108 intersections that are "potential detour routes during construction and intersections that may otherwise be affected by construction-related traffic flow changes." (page 21) Figure 10 shows dozens of these intersections are in the heart of downtown Brooklyn. BQX-related construction into, through and out of the downtown will only add to an already difficult traffic problem.
Feb. 12, 4:45 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Forget the BQX. The infrastructure of NYC is falling apart because two Democrats would rather continue a blood feud than govern. That fact would be laughable if not for all the people that will die as a result of this. If only there was another political party that could be functional.
Feb. 12, 5:37 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Fixing the BQE especially in that area is a must. I know that some of you just wish it would collapse or just get rid of it, but that would lead to some consequences. A major consequence to getting rid of the BQE would have commercial vehicles locating onto local roads to certain neighborhoods already having high asthma rates. Another thing is that it will just make some of the streets have their traffic go from bad to worse. If you though that they were bad during rush hour, just wait and see what they will be like due to the BQE no longer being there. Basically, it's more like saying which is the lesser of the two evils here, though I do find fixing that highway to be the lesser here. There is a reason why NYC still has most of their highways as opposed to other cities getting rid of a lot of theirs' and that's mainly due to high demand with traffic. As for the BQX, I still see as a bad idea considering that most of the streets can't handle them along with other traffic making traffic even worse, plus there was a reason to why grade level rails don't exist in NYC that much anymore. On a side note, before anyone says I can't post anything here on this, keep in mind that the funding for the BQE comes from the state, and I also pay taxes to this, so I do have a say on this despite how many of you will despise on me on this and possibly wish I was killed for saying this.
Feb. 12, 6:47 pm
Barbara says:
Bob, the BQX is like Vietnam. Everyone knew that the United States had lost the war long before it was officially over.
Feb. 13, 9:20 am
Bob Grobe from Downtown Brooklyn says:
As a prerequisite for receiving any federal funds for the BQE-I278 project NYCDOT has stated it will be studying "Indirect and Cumulative Effects." These effects, while "...removed in distance..." from the project "...are still reasonably forseeable." "Indirect effects can occur within the full range of impact areas, such as changes in...traffic congestion, air quality, noise..." (BQE 2018-01-17 Draft Scope of Work, page 29).

Since NYCDOT is promoting both the BQE-I278 and BQX projects it is crucial the planners treat the BQX project as "reasonably forseeable" and include an evaluation of the effects of both projects being undertaken at the same time.
Feb. 14, 8:13 am

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