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Brooklyn-Queens streetcar is unnecessary, Downtown Brooklyn residents say

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Residents of Downtown Brooklyn say it isn’t worth the cost—or the traffic

Once a pie-in-the-sky pipe dream, the Brooklyn-Queens Connector (BQX) seems to be inching ever closer to becoming a reality. But not everyone is on board with the mayor’s waterfront streetcar plan. Among them: the residents of Downtown Brooklyn.

According to DNAInfo, locals told city officials that they “don’t need” a streetcar running through the neighborhood, voicing trepidation about “the high cost to taxpayers and the disruption to traffic.”

At a Community Board 2 meeting Tuesday, officials from the DOT and the NY EDC presented possible routes for the streetcar, which would run from Astoria in Queens to Sunset Park in Brooklyn, taking riders “past the transit-starved Brooklyn Navy Yard,” and stopping at major transit hubs like Borough Hall.

But that convenience comes at a price. “You cannot maintain all the lanes of traffic, maintain all the sidewalk width, all the bike lanes and all parking lanes—that’s not possible,” BQX Director Adam Giambrone said. “There will be tradeoffs that need to be made.”

Residents also raised opposition to the cost of the project—$2.5 billion to build, $30 million annually to operate—suggesting that the funds would be better spent on additional buses in the area. The community board also expressed concerns that the streetcar wouldn’t do much for residents in local public housing at places like the Farragut Houses. “We don’t need it, we can walk to everything we want to get to,” one board member said. “It’s really going to affect the life of everyone that lives there and not in a good way.”

Downtown Brooklyn isn’t the only affected neighborhood to be wary of the project. Some residents of Sunset Park have suggested the BQX will spur gentrification in the area, pricing out mom-and-pop stores and bringing in upscale businesses, Williamsburg-style. Red Hook residents are similarly skeptical, and they’re not alone.

Ultimately, DNAInfo explains, the city will “choose routes based on community feedback collected at meetings like Tuesday’s.” In that spirit, BQX officials will present their plan at tonight’s Community Board 6 transportation committee meeting in Red Hook.