Brooklyn-Queens Connector Streetcar May Become Reality Under Mayor’s $2.5 Billion Proposal

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Image via Friends of Brooklyn Queens Connector.

Image via Friends of Brooklyn Queens Connector.

After stating last month that Mayor Bill de Blasio was taking the idea of a potential trolley streetcar between Brooklyn and Queens “under consideration,” representatives from his office and other city agencies are now confirming his formal support for the proposal, which was based off a study commissioned by a group called the Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector.

The New York Times reports that de Blasio plans to announce his push for a $2.5 billion Brooklyn-Queens Connector during today’s State of the City speech, and that the above-ground service would utilize existing rails on city streets along the East River, from “the industrial centers of Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to the upper reaches of Astoria, Queens.”

The price tag is also apparently “significantly less” than a new underground subway line would cost to connect the two boroughs, which have seen a population boom and growth in industry that has increased calls to create a direct transportation line that bypasses Manhattan.

Image via Friends of Brooklyn Queens Connector.

Image via Friends of Brooklyn Queens Connector.

The Times also invokes legendary — and often controversial — urban planner Robert Moses:

For Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat focused on social reform, the plan also represents a shift to the kind of ambitious Robert Moses-style planning that New Yorkers more often associate with his predecessor, former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who made transportation a hallmark of his tenure.

The mayor’s support might come as less of a surprise when one considers the many prominent Brooklyn community leaders who are part of the Friends group.

Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector is made up of some heavyweight names, including Helena Durst of the Durst Organization real estate firm, Doug Steiner of Steiner Studios (located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard), and Fred Wilson of the venture capital firm Union Square Ventures.

Gothamist reports that it is not clear whether the Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector is the same group that commissioned the study. A search for the committee does not yield an official website.

Jill Eisenhard is the director of the Red Hook Initiative community group who is also a member of the Friends committee. She tells the Daily News that “too much of the city is underserved by our transit system, and we need to be looking at ideas like this to create a 21st century network.”

Construction on the rail line would not commence until at least 2019, with service not beginning until around 2024 at the earliest.

Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development, acknowledged “some significant engineering challenges when you are putting a modern system like this in a very old city.”

But Ms. Glen said the city’s existing transit network no longer met the needs of a metropolis whose commuting patterns have shifted significantly in the last two decades. A streetcar route, she said in an interview, offered a novel and practical fix at a time when federal money for infrastructure is scarce.

“The old transportation system was a hub-and-spoke approach, where people went into Manhattan for work and came back out,” Ms. Glen said. “This is about mapping transit to the future of New York.”

. . . “The more mass transit we have, the better off we are as a city that is growing,” said Richard Ravitch, a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

In his book, Mr. Ravitch said, the plan was “brilliant.” He added, “Not everybody’s going to ride bikes.”

Reporting contributed by Donny Levit.

  • Larry Litmanen

    This is complete BS. Blaz was promising to extend 2 and 5 along Flatbush Ave to Kings Plaza, somehow that idea fizzled. Now with elections coming he remembers this idea.

    Blaz needs to stick to what he knows best, bash the cops and leave transportation to pros.

    • Sean F

      Extending the 2 and 5 down Flatbush would be a logistical and financial boondoggle that would make the Second Avenue subway look as simple as building a snowman. Anything that diverts attention from that pipedream is a good thing, even if the trolley will also never be completed.

      • Robert D

        Take the bus if you need to get along Flatbush Ave. or a dollar van. I wonder if those still exist. “Flatbush Flatbush Utica Utica 1 Dollar”

        • Sean F

          I think you meant this for Larry. He’s the one who wants the subway line. I don’t need for transportation down Flatbush, thanks. I drive.

          I spent my teens biking down Flatbush from Ave K to my job at Toys R Us.

    • Robert D

      Take the bus if you need to get along Flatbush Ave. or a dollar van. I wonder if those still exist. “Flatbush Flatbush Utica Utica 1 Dollar”

      • Larry Litmanen

        My point was Blaz promised the extension when he was running for office. Not only is it false to run on those issues as mayor can not that easily chose transportation projects, also even if they are completed it will be loooooooong after he is out of the office.

        • Robert D

          I’m busting your balls.

          I have an officer in the NYPD so we’re all very anti-Blaz.

  • Robert D

    oh i cannot wait to see the faces on the rich people who live down by the buildings being built along the water in Dumbo. Google: “One Brooklyn” if you don’t know what is going on. Can you imagine when they see 50 Latin American men and their families from Sunset playing soccer on they’re beautiful brand new fields they built in the last few years along the piers. omg this is going to be so great. Wait, wait wait what about when the people come from the red-hook projects to play basketball in those brand new gorgeous courts that were built for the wealthy. Oh the BBQ birthday parties!

    This is only being created bc some very wealthy and influential person owns the majority of the buildings that are being renovated in bklyns industry city. http://industrycity.com/ They need a way to get the people who dont own cars in there to shop, rent, and build cool hip businesses making distressed cotton t-shirts and other etsy concepts.

    Rant over.

  • Lady Deborah Moody

    Can’t they just get a select bus going if this is needed?