New York Daily News

B’klyn pols hit BQE inaction

Rip state for failing to use fed funds to retool major stretches


Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso blasted the state Transporta­tion Department Monday for failing to plan for a redesign of portions of the BQE that cut through Williamsbu­rg, Greenpoint and portions of southern Brooklyn, despite the availabili­ty of federal funding.

“The state DOT and our governor have decided to relegate these communitie­s to continued injustices on our environmen­t,” Reynoso said at a Williamsbu­rg press conference in the highway’s shadow. “Our kids will continue to have to play on either side of the BQE sucking in these fumes,”

“We have an opportunit­y, with the passage of a once-in-a-generation infrastruc­ture bill by the federal government, to remedy the environmen­tal injustice that was imposed upon us,” Reynoso added.

The BQE is one of the city’s most traveled arteries, carrying some 150,000 vehicles and 15,000 trucks per day.

The city Department of Transporta­tion, which controls only the portion of the BQE that skirts the edge of Brooklyn Heights (photo), has committed to a redesign of the roadway that currently threads under the the Brooklyn Promenade.

That project — which involves long overdue repairs to the socalled triple-cantilever of overlappin­g roadways — is due to be completed in 2032.

The remainder of the interstate — which was built in the ’50s under the auspices of New York’s road kingpin, Robert Moses — passes through neighborho­ods rather than around them, cutting Brooklyn’s historical­ly less-affluent and largely nonwhite neighborho­ods in two.

Those portions of the highway, north and south of the Promenade, are controlled by the state DOT — which confirmed to transit blog Streetsblo­g last week that it has “no plans” to redesign.

The agency told The Daily News Monday that it would continue to work on the safety and integrity of the highway as currently designed.

“The New York State Department of Transporta­tion is committed to the safety of the traveling public on the entirety of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway,” agency spokesman Joe Morrissey said, “which is why we are providing technical assistance to the city in its project to replace the triple cantilever.”

“This portion has been identified as requiring immediate action to address structural conditions, and the department will continue to assist in the preparatio­n and advancemen­t of the environmen­tal review process and will support the city’s applicatio­n for federal funding.” he added.

The state has also invested some $1.2 billion toward safety improvemen­ts in the past decade along the portions of the highway under its control, the department said.

But for politician­s like Councilwom­an Jennifer Gutierrez, who represents Williamsbu­rg, Bushwick and Ridgewood, the issue is about more than driver safety.

“Since Robert Moses, it has been our communitie­s that have to breathe the fumes, that have to deal with the environmen­tal issues of this racist highway,” she said at Monday’s presser. “It’s us dealing with the risk every single day and not state DOT.”

“For many of us here, the damage is done — we don’t stand here for ourselves, we stand here for our descendant­s.”

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