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Ready to roll: City taps engineer to begin environmental review of BQX trolley project

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The city on Wednesday tapped an engineering firm to study the environmental impacts that Mayor DeBlasio’s beloved Brooklyn–Queens trolley may have on the neighborhoods through which it would run, according to the leader of an advocacy group for the so-called Brooklyn Queens Connector.

“Today’s news makes it clear: the BQX is moving forward,” said Jessica Schumer, the daughter of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D–New York). “These steps show meaningful progress for the project — something we’ve been eager to see.”

The city’s Economic Development Corporation awarded Manhattan-based firm VHB a $7.2-million contract to lead the environmental-review process and subsequent Uniform Land Use Review Procedure the trolley project must snake through before any straphangers can hop aboard, according to a rep for the agency.

News of the contract comes months after Hizzoner put the fate of the streetcar in jeopardy last summer, when he announced it would derail without $1 billion in federal funding approved by his political rival President Trump.

DeBlasio’s plea for federal cash — which some Brooklyn pols in Washington, DC, said he should not hold his breath for — followed a city study of the project, which revealed that the streetcar would not entirely pay for itself by revenue generated from new developments along its line, despite initial claims that it would by the consortium of builders that first pitched the scheme.

The adoption of a new financial model came around the same time that the city took other sharp turns in the project, including shrinking its original 14-mile route to 11 miles, changing the path of its Brooklyn tracks so they would skip Dumbo entirely and terminate in Red Hook, not Sunset Park, and increasing its projected $2.5-billion budget to $2.73 billion.

Officials also set a new start date for construction as sometime in 2024 — the year they initially said the trolley would be up and running when DeBlasio announced it back in 2016.

VHB’s engineers will seek input from locals whose transit-hungry, waterfront neighborhoods the streetcar would serve as part of their environmental review. And officials expect the firm to start pushing the plan through the lengthy ulurp process next year, with the hope of starting the service in 2029, according to an Economic Development Corporation spokeswoman.

“The BQX will link long-disconnected neighborhoods and shorten commutes for over half a million New Yorkers who live and work along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront,” said Stephanie Báez. “It is a 21st-century solution to our city’s transit challenges, and we’re excited to move the project forward.”

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 3:45 pm, February 6, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Frank from Furter says:
EDC is controlled by the Mayor. Its just a way for him to use his cronies to support things he likes without going to the City Council.
Feb. 7, 9:54 am
Raymond from Boerum Hill says:
There's no heat in NYCHA but there is lead and mold and the ceilings are falling down but there's millions of dollars for a train for the super rich to nowhere. That's de Blasio's, Schumer's, Cuomo's progressivism at work. The Council's continuing catering to the rich too.
Feb. 7, 10 am
The Hunkster from Bed-Stuy says:
It's an ultimate public transportation boondoggle waiting it happen. I'll be not surprised if the Feds will not give funding to de Crony's pet project. This could make this DOA.
Feb. 7, 10:06 am
Frank from Furter says:
The Feds won't give money to fix the BQE never mind the BQX. Unless the city essentially allows people to ride this for free it will be next to useless. Free because its not part of the MTA so it will make it a double fare to use the subway system. Its probably DOA anyway. Even the City's own analysis of increase development can't justify the amount of money to be spent. Given you can add a bus route for this for less than 1/100 of the cost and allow free rides as well.
Feb. 7, 10:14 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
For anything like this to be effective, it needs to be raised ABOVE TRAFFIC like many people carriers in Japan. Otherwise it's just a bus with different wheels that can't drive around obstructions. Imagine Red Hook access by simply flying over the BQE Battery Tunnel mess. Plenty of other situations too, like a spur above Atlantic Ave that connects to LIRR and Pacific St/Barkley's.
Feb. 7, 10:58 am
blogger Bill from from Boerum Hill says:
READY TO RILE should be headline for this story. Engineers should have been hired before BQX debut 3 years ago. Once
Feb. 7, 11:02 am
Frank from Furter says:
If you raise it above traffic you will increase cost exponentially as will have to be handicap accessible. NYC buses are already handicap accessible.
Feb. 7, 11:03 am
blogger Bill from from Boerum Hill says:
READY TO RILE should be headline for this story. Engineers should have been hired 3 yrs ago, before BQX debut. Yet another deBlabio waste of our tax dollars and attention. No room for BQX on already crammed streets..add flood prone coastal route, a decade of public taking lawsuits and this developer wet dream answers itself.
Feb. 7, 11:08 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
How about just kill this idea already especially since grade level rails these days are almost no different from taking a bus not to mention the traffic it would cause?
Feb. 7, 1:38 pm
Just do it from NYC says:
We're starved for mobility in BQ. What are you waiting for? Just do it! And all the neighsayers will get onboard and ride it, all the time, before the bus, before the train, and even in some cases before the CAR ~ Guaranteed!
Feb. 7, 10:55 pm
Just do it from NYC says:
...and Sunset Park will then be begging for it!
Feb. 7, 10:57 pm
Mark from Crown Heights says:
Totally ridiculous waste of money! Try first establishing a bus route on this same (or essentially same) route and see if the ridership truly justifies this huge expense. Take the estimated 2.7 billion dollars and apply it to fixing the subway. The subway already exists and most definitely needs the overhaul. Money should not be wasted on a new rail line through flood-prone neighborhoods. (And let Jessica Schumer find some legitimate job.)
Feb. 8, 6:13 am
Rufus Leaking from BH says:
Paging Bob Diamond!
Feb. 8, 11:47 am
Frank from Furter says:
Many may not understand the Diamond reference.Diamond promoted a trolley from Red hook to downtown. In fact for a short period he did run a trolley down by fairway. I rode it. It was fun short and didn't last. He had a small grant to do so. Those trolleys are no longer in operating condition. The bqx is not the same as the Diamond trolley.
Feb. 8, 2:14 pm
TOM from Sunset Park says:
"Just Do It": None of the communities the BQX is planned for want it. They can't see any purpose but see it as a hindrance to local truck routes--forcing trucks onto residential streets. But the high-rise developers sure need it and don't want to pay for it. They wisely dropped the Sunset Park extension because a new bridge over the Gowanus Canal to carry the heavy trolley would add a billion to the cost. Not that this reduction in the route reduced the anticipated cost. No, it only added to it. Anything to get your attention off NYCHA!
Feb. 8, 4:29 pm
ty from pps says:
why not hang a monorail under the gowanus
Feb. 8, 5:10 pm

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