BROOKLYN HEIGHTS (PIX11) – The New York City Department of Transportation held a virtual workshop to discuss proposals to reimagine the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. It’s just the latest meeting to hear public feedback on the long-awaited project.

“The purpose of these meetings is to share refined design ideas with the community,” said Julie Bero, the DOT’s Chief Strategy Officer. “We’re here to listen to your feedback on how these developed concepts resonate with or correspond to community priorities.”

City leaders, area residents and drivers who use the BQE agree that the dilapidated triple cantilever extends from south of Atlantic Avenue. to Sands Street needs help. But exactly how it will be redesigned has been debated for years.

Lifelong Brooklyn Heights resident Brian Howald weighed in during the virtual meeting and spoke to PIX11 News after.

“I grew up literally on the side of a highway,” said Howald. “Climate change and air pollution are very important to consider if we rebuild the highway. Are we doing anything to mitigate the terrible air quality, climate change and health and safety of residents should be number one.”

While numerous design proposals have been made to save and reimagine the BQE since the project was announced in 2016, there is no solid, definitive plan. However, just week, the DOT unveiled three new concepts – each connecting the Brooklyn Heights promenade to the waterfront. Two designs, “The Look Out” and “The Terraces,” entail partially replacing the cantilever. The third, “The Stoop,” would be a full replacement.

“I think the three new proposals we saw tonight are very similar to the ones we saw a couple of months ago,” said Howald.

Area residents said the latest options do not address their concerns: minimizing vehicular traffic and limiting negative impacts on air quality, noise and climate change.

“I think there’s a possibility of it being two lanes and not three. That’s a step in the right direction,” said Howald. “The focus really needs to be more on what are New York City transportation needs 20 to 30 years from now.”

The 80-year-old BQE was built in the 1940s. DOT officials say it carries 130,000 vehicles a day, including trucks. As a result, the environmental impact study has now been delayed from spring to fall this year.

City officials have not put an exact price tag on fixing the BQE, but it’s been estimated at several billion dollars. They plan on applying for federal funds from President Biden’s infrastructure spending plan.

The projected timeline for completing the BQE renovations is not until 2027.