The public process for the redesigned BQE begins, construction is promised within 5 years
Brooklyn-Queens Expressway towards Lower Manhattan, captured in 2013.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams is launching the community engagement process to finally fix the ailing Brooklyn-Queens Freeway in a bid to unite communities that have long been divided by the 68-year-old freeway.
Two public engagement processes will begin this month, Adams announced Friday alongside Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. Construction is expected to begin on BQE Central, which covers the city-owned section that runs between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street, within five years. The city’s public commitment is to inform the design of this city-owned section of freeway.
As part of community engagement, the city is bringing together a group of architects, engineers, consultants, and design firms to help. AECOM USA Parsons Transportation Group of New York was recruited by the Department of Transportation to work with AKRF, Bjarke Ingels Group, Fitzgerald & Halliday and Scape Landscape Architecture. Engineering firm WSP USA, design and public space studio WXY architecture and urban design, and innovation agency 3×3 will also be part of the engagement process.
The Ministry of Transport has stated that the repairs must be carried out by 2026, or trucks will have to be sent via Brooklynresidential streets because the highway is in such disrepair. The central part of the corridor was built 80 years ago and currently serves more than 130,000 vehicles per day, including 13,000 trucks.
Separately, the BQE North and South project engagement will examine ways to reconnect communities north of Sands Street to the Kosciusko Bridge and south of Atlantic Avenue to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge that have been left out of the processes of previous engagement, according to the announcement.
The northern and southern parts of the BQE are state-owned, and Adams wants to develop designs with the goal of reuniting communities that were divided when Robert Moses designed the highway in the first half of the 20th century. Covering these sections could create public spaces like parks and plazas.
“Our administration is seizing a unique opportunity to partner with communities and develop a bold vision for a safe and resilient BQE,” Adams said in the statement. “Together, we are finally confronting the racism embedded in our infrastructure and putting fairness first to modernize this vital transportation artery now.”
The community engagement plan is to hold in-person and remote public workshops starting this month. There will also be public surveys and outreach activities in neighborhoods throughout the BQE. Funding will also be provided to “community organizations to engage underrepresented voices at what the city calls the ‘local level.’
The administration sets up the BQE Community Visioning Council to advise the Department of Transportation on engagement strategies. Adams announced in the summer it was abandonment plans of his predecessor Bill de Blasio, who had wanted to spend $500 million to repair the damaged section of the highway. Instead, Adams said he wanted to speed up the process and use the federal bipartisan infrastructure bill passed last year.