Image via Friends of Brooklyn Queens Connector.
Elected officials slammed the mayor’s plan to build a fancy streetcar along the East River waterfront for offering further proof the city is willfully neglecting the transportation needs of southern Brooklyn residents.
Following Mayor Bil de Blasio’s State of the City speech last week, in which he pledged $2.5 billion towards the Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar line linking Astoria, Queens, to Sunset Park, a coalition of local politicians issued a joint statement panning the proposal.
“How does the Mayor’s new $2.5 billion transportation plan address the needs of underserved Southern Brooklyn residents?” the statement read. “These are areas dealing with a lack of transportation options, lengthy, delay-ridden commutes, and overcrowding.”
The statement is signed by councilmen Mark Treyger, Chaim Deutsch and Vincent Gentile, State Senator Diane Savino, and assemblymembers William Colton and Pamela Harris.
The elected officials went on to detail a laundry list of grievances about poor public transportation services, many of which residents have been requesting for decades. It pointed out that straphangers have been clamoring for years for the return of express F train service and that unreliable service along the R line was also a source of frustration. The statement also highlighted the dearth of elevators for seniors and the disabled at subway stations as well as cuts to express bus service in southern Brooklyn.
The Mayor said the streetcar line would be paid for by the city and the cost would be offset by an expected rise in property values along the line, according to the New York Times.
Indeed the project is backed by a group of wealthy real estate developers, called the Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector, who would likely reap enormous benefits from the new transit route.
Some of the organization’s members include heavyweights like 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.
The politicians demanded that City Hall prioritize transportation needs throughout New York, not just areas with hot real estate markets.
“Plans to improve transportation options for New Yorkers need to benefit all of the city’s residents. A five-borough transportation plan must account for all regions of the boroughs,” the statement read.