BROOKLYN HEIGHTS, Brooklyn — Congestion pricing and creative thinking could change the much-needed and much-talked about BQE construction plan.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday afternoon that the city will be rethinking things.
Brooklyn Heights neighbors like Hilary Jager have been saying for months the current proposed plans to rebuild a crumbling mile and a half triple cantilevered section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway will not cut it.
Currently, the Department of Transportation is considering two options that would involve years of traffic headaches and the destruction of the popular pedestrian promenade for a period of time.
“If the city is going to spend $4 billion they really should be investing in something, and so we named ourselves 'aBetterWay' because we want to find a better way to do this project,” Jager said.
It seems like the calls for alternatives are reaching the ears of decision makers.
De Blasio announced a panel that will review the project and several community-alternatives to replace the stretch road runs from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Sands along Brooklyn’s waterfront.
Carlo Scissura of the NY Building Congress will chair the new panel.
“We’re starting fresh,” said Scissura, standing on the promenade two hours after the appointment.
A new X-factor that could change the BQE’s fate is congestion pricing. Kate Slevin with the Regional Plan Association civic group suggest congestion pricing could reduce traffic by up to 20 percent on the aging highway. That could mean the new stretch of BQE might be able to be built with less lanes of traffic, paving the way for more creative solutions.
“This road is going to be reconstructed for 50 more years, and we really have to get it right,” Slevin said.
The panel is expected to take most of 2019 to evaluate all the options, but the clock is ticking. If there is no construction happening within seven years, weight restrictions will be added to the BQE.
City officials held a community town hall on Wednesday night to discuss potential reconstruction plans for the BQE.