City Controller Scott Stringer revealed a new plan to fix a crumbling stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway Wednesday: ban cars and convert a stretch of the road into a majestic public park.
The proposal, sent to the Department of Transportation last week, is an ambitious alternative to the city’s plans to close the iconic Brooklyn Heights Promenade for six years while rehab work is completed on the highway.
Stringer’s plan would not only save the precious promenade, but also turn one of the three stacked lanes beneath into a two-mile park that extends all the way to Carroll Gardens. His office is calling that project the “Cobble Hill Linear Park,” which would be situated above the entrenched stretch of the BQE just south of Brooklyn Heights.
In order to make that possible, only trucks and express buses would be allowed on the one-and-a-half-mile span between the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel and the Brooklyn Bridge.
The DOT has floated two proposals for the project: one that would install a temporary six-lane road above the promenade, and another that would reconstruct the BQE on a lane-by-lane basis, which would come with regular closures and traffic issues.
Stringer says that by making the roadway truck-only, engineers would only need to rebuild one layer of the BQE instead of rehabilitating the whole structure.
The cantilevered structure currently carries approximately 72,000 cars daily in each direction, according to Stringer’s office. But more than 80% of those trips begin and end within the city, and roughly 35% stay inside Brooklyn.
The letter lays out the alternatives commuters could take, including subways, buses and car pools on local streets.
“We are confident that with increased frequencies on local trains and on local bus routes, many car trips can be diverted to public transit,“ Stringer’s letter says.
The DOT’s current proposals are set to begin environmental review later this year, a process that will drag on for up to two years.