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Brooklyn Heights residents tout new BQE plan that would preserve promenade

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Advocates are pushing their own plan after the city’s proposals drew fierce opposition

The historic Brooklyn Heights Promenade is in jeopardy with the city’s plan to overhaul the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.
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Community ire over a plan to temporarily place a six-lane highway on the cherished Brooklyn Heights Promenade to repair the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway has reached a fever pitch. Now, unsatisfied with the city’s proposals, Brooklyn Heights advocates are pushing their own plan, the New York Times reports.

Members of the Brooklyn Heights Association are hoping to take a page out of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s book, who suddenly canceled the L train shutdown after bringing in a team of experts to develop an alternative, with a counter proposal to the Department of Transportation’s controversial plans.

The DOT has proposed two options: The first would replace the promenade with an elevated six-lane highway for six years while portions of the freeway are rebuilt. The second option would reconstruct the road lane-by-lane—shuttering portions of the highway and the promenade as needed—and, in part, divert traffic onto local roads.

Both options have drawn intense criticism and some critics charge the city with focusing too heavily on rebuilding a dated expressway when the city could use the opportunity to enact a bold new vision. Advocates recently sent a letter to the Department of Transportation demanding a panel of outside experts review the project.

“The shame or tragedy of where we find ourselves is: Their mind-set is to rebuild what was opened in 1954 and yet we all know that going forward, transportation needs are going to be vastly different,” Richard Ziegler, a lawyer who has aided the association’s efforts told the Times. “They are being backward-looking instead of forward-looking.”

The association’s plan—which still requires heavy vetting—would see a temporary, two-tiered highway along portions of the BQE. Instead of running on top of the promenade, one stretch would run beside the promenade on land that includes a parking lot and berms on the eastern edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park, according to the newspaper.

The plan would allow the promenade to remain open during the majority of the project and redirect BQE traffic further from the residential neighborhood. Marc Wouters, an urban planner and architect who lives in Brooklyn Heights, developed the plan.

Ultimately, the city expects to land on four to six options and open the proposals to public discussion as part of a two-year review process, the Times reports.