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BQE's $1.7B makeover could shutter parts of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade

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The repairs will likely begin in 2020 and last five years

The city’s Department of Transportation is about to undertake its most expensive project to date, and fittingly it will involve the repair and rehabilitation of one of the city’s most hated highways, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

Beginning as early as 2020, the agency will launch a $1.7 billion project to repair a 1.5 mile-long stretch along the highway between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street (near the Manhattan Bridge), the New York Times reports.

The expressway was built between 1944-1948 and spearheaded by Robert Moses, but in recent years, the highway has come to be identified with potholes, bumps, and it’s high crash rate. Earlier this year, the transportation department hired experts to study the conditions of the highway. The consensus? The highway itself is stable but the rebars inside the concrete were starting to corrode and could eventually break leading to emergency repairs.

Part of the section being repaired includes the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and this has local residents worried that they will temporarily lose a much-loved public space or that traffic from the highway could seep into local streets. The DOT however has ensured that that will not be the case, and that only parts of the promenade will remain closed during the repairs.

What the repairs will do however is increase access to the waterfront, which is blocked off in many areas along the cantilevered stretch of the BQE. This cantilever method was adopted as an alternative to the original plan for the highway, according to the Times. Previously, Moses intended for the highway to cut through the middle of Brooklyn Heights, but that would have led to the demolition of dozens of historic buildings in the area, and as a result it was moved to be along the waterfront.

The BQE’s pricey repair will also include work on 21 bridges along that 1.5 mile-long stretch. Most of the costs for the repair will be borne by the city, but NYC is also looking for about 38 percent of the funds to come from the state.

Construction work will take about five years, and while some locals have expressed concerns about disruption, preliminary repair work along the highway has already pleased others. The city patched up some concrete and repaired some road surfaces along the highway, and it’s already made big impact for residents in the area, according to the Times.