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BQE reconstruction scope and timeline prodded by NYC pols

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Elected officials sent a letter to the Department of Transportation asking for details on the project

A NYC highway with traffic, buildings on the back. Shutterstock.com

Discussions on the fate of a deteriorating stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway continue.

Late last week, NYC elected officials including Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin, U.S. representatives Nydia Velazquez and Hakeem Jeffries, penned a letter to the Department of Transportation seeking details on the project, several months after Mayor Bill de Blasio convened a panel of experts to look at the multiple options brought to the table, the New York Daily News first reported.

“In the lead-up to the release of the BQE Expert Panel’s evaluation and report, we are interested to learn more about changes to the project’s timeline, scope, and funding as well as the ongoing involvement of state and federal agencies,” the letter reads.

The letter asks about the progress, and clarification, on several aspects of the project, including the potential elimination of BQE ramps that connect to Dumbo, a direct bridge connection between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges to the BQE, and progress on a traffic study for a proposed “Unified Van Voorhees Park.” In the letter, officials ask for answers on these questions by September 13.

“The BQE is a critical artery, and the process to reimagine its future is an opportunity to fix the broken status quo,” Stringer told Curbed in a statement. “Innovative proposals have been put forward and residents have offered input at a series of public meetings and community forums—Now we need answers and concrete next steps from DOT.”

“I urge DOT to keep the ball rolling efficiently by providing a clear roadmap for next steps including the project’s environmental impacts, funding timelines, and details on the potential for a capacity reduction,” Stringer added.

The Department of Transportation has put forth two proposals to reconstruct the 1.5-mile stretch between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street in Brooklyn Heights: a temporarily elevated roadway on the level of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, which would disrupt access to the walkway for six years, and a lane-by-lane approach which would close the promenade for up to two years.

Other proposals include City Council speaker Corey Johnson’s suggestion to tear the entire expressway down, and Comptroller Scott Stringer’s to turn part of it into a truck-only highway topped with a two-mile linear park a la the High Line.

A DOT spokesperson told Curbed that the agency intends to meet with the officials to discuss their questions and that, in regards to the timeline, they will wait for recommendations from the panel of experts.

The president of the New York Building Congress and head of the panel of experts convened by Mayor de Blasio, Carlo Scissura, told the Daily News that the panel will release its report in the fall.