Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan for a shiny new streetcar through Brooklyn and Queens took a step forward Wednesday.
The NYC Economic Development Corporation, which also runs NYC Ferry service, announced it approved a contract with a consultant to oversee the environmental review process for the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, or BQX.
The trolley, which was first announced in 2016, looked to be dead in the water last April when Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen questioned whether it was worth its $2.5 billion price tag.
But the city released a revised plan for the BQX in August, which slashed the length of the streetcar’s route from 16 miles to 11, and inflated its cost to $2.7 billion.
The updated route terminates in Gowanus in the south and Astoria in the north.
Now, consulting firm VHB will lead the charge to cut through the red tape that comes with a project of this size.
The company will work with the city to complete an environmental impact study and file an application for Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, which requires the sign off from every City Council member along the route.
The new transit option has garnered a good deal of controversy since it was announced. Like the NYC Ferry, it has raised concerns about gentrification and housing prices.
Friends of the BQX, a real estate-backed nonprofit that has been advocating for the project, praised the progress Wednesday.
“We are pleased with the city’s commitment not just to moving the project forward, but to community engagement, which must play a central role,“ said the group’s executive director Jessica Schumer, daughter of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. “As the city grapples with a transit crisis, now is the moment for it to take control of its mass transit destiny and expand access wherever it can.”
The city hopes to have the trolley completed in 2029 — it still hasn’t determined how it will be funded.
An estimated $1.4 billion of the project’s cost will be covered through a process called “value capture.”