Berm notice: Architect behind third BQE fix fleshes out plan to send traffic on roadway near park, instead of on Promenade

Build it here: A Brooklyn Heights architect’s plan calls for constructing a temporary highway along the hilly mounds of Brooklyn Bridge Park in order to spare the beloved Promenade.
Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

The architect who late last year proposed a third way to fix the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway’s triple cantilever unveiled more details for the scheme that proposes sending traffic down a temporary roadway near Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Diverting cars and trucks along an interim road built closer to the meadow will allow the critical job to wrap faster than either of the city’s two options, and spare the Brooklyn Heights Promenade from becoming a speedway in some residents’ backyards, the urban planner said.

“We’re really thinking this is going to be a much shorter duration. When we take all traffic and put it to the side on a temporary highway, it means that it should be easier to rebuild the old triple cantilever,” Marc Wouters, who lives in Brooklyn Heights, told this newspaper.

Wouters’ proposal, which the city is now analyzing, calls for erecting a two-tiered roadway that features three lanes for Bay Ridge–bound vehicles on one level, and another three lanes for Queens-bound traffic on the other.

The temporary structure would rise right behind Brooklyn Bridge Park’s man-made hilly berms along part of Furman Street, some of which might need to be hacked down to accommodate it. But building the interim highway there would leave all of the waterfront park’s pathways and play spaces untouched, and only minimally affect some of the meadow’s parking lots and service buildings, according to Wouters, who created the plan at the request of leaders of local civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association.

“We love the park, everybody we talk to wants to make certain the park remains completely active and open,” he said. “It seems like a place where you could put a temporary highway and not really do any harm to the park.”

Meadow stewards with the semi-private Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation, however, said they have questions and concerns about how Wouters’s design may affect the green space, and plan to share those with officials as the city continues to weigh it.

The architect’s plan calls for repairing the 1.5-mile stretch of expressway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street, which includes the triple cantilever, in segments. He has already designed a temporary roadway between Atlantic Avenue and the Brooklyn Bridge, which would accommodate traffic while workers repair the stretch of highway between those points, and said that roadway would be extended as construction moves along the highway.

The segmented repairs would allow some swathes of the expressway to reopen to traffic even as others are being fixed, pushing the job forward while limiting the need to reroute vehicles, Wouters said.

“Our plan can actually be built in segments, you can build a segment, finish 100 percent and be done, and then build another segment,” he said.

Wouters does not yet have a full cost estimate or timeline for his fix, but said it could take at least six years — roughly the same amount of time as the quicker of the city’s two plans — and come in cheaper than either of the Department of Transporta­tion’s two proposals, which at nearly $4 billion, are now more than twice the price initially estimated for the job.

“We know that some components are less expensive,” he said.

The architect’s scheme would still require temporarily closing the parts of the Promenade that sit atop the 70-year-old triple cantilever in order to shore it up, work that the city accounted for in its so-called “traditional approach” to repairing the road, which calls for fixing the three-tiered highway lane by lane over no fewer than eight years.

But it would avoid shuttering the Promenade entirely and turning it into a six-lane highway for at least six years as proposed under the city’s so-called “innovative approach” endorsed by Mayor DeBlasio — and likely save lives in the process, by sparing locals from breathing in toxic chemicals emitted by vehicles on that highway constructed just feet from some area homes.

A Transportation Department rep previously told this newspaper that the Promenade-turned-highway would run from Congress to Adams streets, and renderings released yesterday by opponents of the innovative plan show the elevated roadway would block views of the Manhattan skyline as it crosses over the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge near Adams Street.

City transit leaders said they hope to kick off repairs to the expressway as soon as 2020 — roughly six years before experts warn the triple cantilever could start to collapse under the weight of the thousands of trucks that rumble along it daily. And officials promised locals will get the chance to weigh in on all fixes on the table, including Wouters’s and others, as they work to put a plan in place over the next two years, according to an agency rep.

“We are analyzing the association’s plan, as well as a range of other concepts and are continuing to work with elected officials, the community, and all local stakeholders on the entire project corridor to hear their input,” she said. “We expect to identify a number of additional options, which will be weighed in public discussions as part of a thorough review process that will last about two years.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 2:37 pm, January 29, 2019
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

Mike from Williamsburg says:
Tear it down. Don't rebuild it.
Jan. 29, 2019, 3:39 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
It seems that no matter what proposal is done to help fix the BQE, you anti-car fanatics will never be pleased, plus the traffic using it will have to go somewhere during the time of its renovation when they can't use it at certain times.
Jan. 29, 2019, 3:52 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Traffic does not "have to go somewhere." Car fanatics love being traffic, but they can stay home or take the subway.
Jan. 29, 2019, 4:38 pm
Old time Brooklyn from Slope says:
Mike - always good for a laugh - cars and drivers are here to stay
Jan. 29, 2019, 5:30 pm
James from Bushwick says:
Urban farms are the future. Forget about the transportation of goods including edibles. We need to ensure that for every new construction (50% of arable cubic footage is designated for vertical farms).
Jan. 29, 2019, 7:16 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Some people are so arrogant that they really think if they want something to go away, it just will. No, traffic will flow elsewhere, like water, without the BQE. Meaning you will end up with idling 18 wheelers stuck in gridlock everywhere, including outside your house. We live in a borough with 5 million people, and some people are dumb enough to want to get rid of the one highway we have. These people are almost as dangerous as anti-vaxxers.
Jan. 29, 2019, 7:50 pm
James from Brooklyn Heights says:
It's called dissuaded demand, and it's well documented when it comes to traffic.
Jan. 30, 2019, 9:25 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
James from Bushwick, even if urban farms could be done, there will need to be space for that and much of that is sort of impossible for the most part in NYC, plus the food will still need to transported even with them around.
Jan. 30, 2019, 7:51 pm
Ben from Ft Greene says:
Bill de Blasio and the word "innovative" don't go together. All de Blasio knows is status quo corrupt wheeling dealing. He could give a damn about the Promenade. Replacing it with a highway is great.
Jan. 30, 2019, 7:52 pm
Formerly From from Fulton Ferry says:
How did this alternative manage to avoid screwing the Fulton Ferry folks, an SOP for BQE repair? Go back and get 'r' done!
Jan. 31, 2019, 10:14 am
Merlino Fabro from Bay Ridge says:
Based on the architect's proposal, it seems like it would be more worthwhile for DOT to build a permanent three-lane structure next to the triple cantilever, remove the two highway levels, and extend the new structure one lane wider in the space where the old highway was. This might mean they would have to temporarily close or make Furman street one-way, but it is better than all these crazy schemes to build a temporary highway AND fix the old one.
Jan. 31, 2019, 1:52 pm
Elder Berry from Fort Greene Meat Market says:
There were MORE people in Brooklyn 1930s-1950s than today and far far fewer trucks and cars... How did they do it? How did the EAT? Morons. The means of transport needs to change and traffic needs to be severely curtailed for everyone's benefit.
Feb. 2, 2019, 6:30 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
How about just work on the BQE late nights as they are doing with the L train tunnel so that nobody would get screwed especially when little will be using it at that time anyway, though I doubt that will have the approval of the anti-car fanatics over at Streetsblog and Transportation Alternatives?
Feb. 4, 2019, 2:41 pm
Ed McCarthy from Brooklyn Heights says:
If the toll was removed from the Brooklyn Battery tunnel, the traffic on this section of the BQE would be in great part alleviated. As it stands, most of the Brooklyn bound traffic on the Brooklyn bridge uses this this highway as a “shunpike” to avoid the tunnel and its toll. Alternatively, a toll could be required to cross the river on the bridges, but that has already proven tone a non-starter. The question remains, would the powers that be give up their revenue stream, even if only temporarily?
Feb. 8, 2019, 2:37 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: