Long Overdue BQE Fix Probably Won’t Involve Digging up Brooklyn Heights

04/01/2011 11:27 AM |

Beneath Brooklyn?
  • Beneath Brooklyn?

The stretch of the BQE between Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights and Sands Street in DUMBO is badly in need of repairs and a thorough redesign, but popular proposals to put the eyesore highway underground beneath Downtown Brooklyn or, more ambitiously, along the waterfront from Sunset Park to Greenpoint, probably won’t happen.

The Brooklyn Paper reports that state and federal officials have told the city’s Department of Transportation that there won’t be enough money to fund the various BQE burial proposals, which range from an estimated $2.2 billion price tag (for a tunnel from Kane Street in Cobble Hill to North Portland Avenue in Fort Greene) up to $20 billion.

More likely are glorified re-surfacing projects for the 1.7 mile stretch between Atlantic and Sands that would still cost around $200 million in city, state and federal funding. But many residents want more fundamental transformations.

“That looks like a paint job,” sniffed Boerum Hill resident Bill Harris, a member of a state-appointed citizen’s committee involved in the planning of the mega-repair. “I thought we were talking about the future. I thought we were trying to be visionary here, to try to do this so we didn’t have to do it again in another 30 or 40 years from now.”

Similarly ambitious plans to cover up other stretches of the blighted, neighborhood-bisecting expressway—on the western edge of Carroll Gardens and in South Williamsburg—encountered budget shortfalls and drastic reductions in scope.

And those two projects had the added advantage of dealing with sunken stretches of the BQE. Here, a laborious, destructive and bound-to-be-over-budget tunneling project could mean decades of construction, eminent domain land seizures and demolitions. Planners for the state will rule out more possible proposals later this month. Something’s gotta happen soon, though: the BQE is already badly in need of repairs, degrading rapidly, and doesn’t meet federal highway standards.