NYC officials released more details Tuesday on the idea for a new streetcar linking Brooklyn and Queens, including potential routes and a timeline for construction. The $2.5 billion BQX would stretch from Astoria in Queens to Sunset Park in Brooklyn and connect some of the city’s most crowded waterfront neighborhoods.
A 25-page report outlines potential routes for each leg of the 16-mile route, breaking down the benefits and drawbacks of various streets, and taking into account estimated travel time, ridership projections, connectivity to buses, subways and ferries, easy boarding access and disruption to traffic flow.
Through Greenpoint and Williamsburg, for example, the report considers eight thoroughfares. While Bedford Avenue is far from high-density development, it does include a connection to the L train. Another option, Kent Avenue, is closer to other transit connections, but the streetcar would have to be designed around an existing greenway.
All routes plan for more than 30 stops placed in the center of the road about every half-mile. The streetcar will stop at 5- to 10-minute intervals during peak hours, and will interact with cars at intersections, but will be in an exclusive lane as much as possible.
According to The New York Times, city officials are planning to meet with community boards in Brooklyn and Queens to discuss the routes over the next two months, and will select a path early next year. “We now feel that it’s very important and a real inflection point in the process to lay out the options and get some feedback,” says Alicia Glen, the city’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development.
Early community meetings about the streetcar idea have drawn supporters of added transport, as well as those who thought increased bus service would be better and those who expressed concerns about the line intensifying gentrification.
In addition to the $2.5 billion upfront costs, the city estimates they’ll spend $30 million a year on operations and maintenance. However, the city touts the economic benefits of added jobs, construction, transit-oriented development, and increased support for local businesses, neighborhoods, and services. The BQX could also boost access to jobs for New Yorkers along the East River without close access to the Manhattan-centric subway. Currently, 400,000 people live and 300,000 work along the corridor.
The city plans to break ground on the project in 2019 and start operations in 2024.
Kelsey E. Thomas is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia but forever dreaming of her PNW roots. She writes about urban policy, sustainability and the outdoors (but also about nearly everything else) and helps brands employ strategic storytelling to grow their reputation and reach. She is a former associate editor at Next City.