BQ-oriented? The mayor of Blasio still believes in it | Queenswide


Give Mayor de Blasio credit for his optimism about the idea for the Brooklyn Queens Connector Streetcar.

The plan is not moving forward. On Friday, the Friends of BQX website had no information accessible on a blank home page. But it was also not canceled and still has influential supporters in residential and commercial communities.

“Covid-19 has interrupted momentum on many important priorities, and BQX is one of them,” Mitchell Schwartz, director of rapid response and deputy press secretary to the mayor, said in an email to The Chronicle last Thursday. . “The work we have done to date will leave the city well positioned to move this project forward and provide fast and reliable transit options to Brooklyn and Queens as soon as financial circumstances permit.”

If work resumed tomorrow and construction costs remained the same as in 2018 – they won’t, everyone agrees – it would be unlikely to be carrying passengers until at least 2029, or at least five years and God knows how much more money than originally planned over five years ago.

Eric Adams or Curtis Sliwa, if either serves two terms as mayor, would likely have a limited term before that happened. Adams only said he would at least consider keeping the project active.

When de Blasio first offered the BQX in April 2016, it was going to travel 16 miles from Astoria to Sunset Park in Brooklyn; would cost $ 2.5 billion but would be self-financing without state or federal aid; and would pave the way in 2019 with the first passengers in 2024.

In August 2018, the Economic Development Corp. of the city admitted that the route would be only 11 miles long, but that the cost would instead be $ 2.73 billion, that it would not start until 2024, and that it would not take passengers until 2029 .

The EDC in that same report said then that without federal aid, the city would lack more than $ 1.3 billion – in 2018 dollars.

Meanwhile, the city has conducted studies totaling more than $ 7 million, missed at least four self-imposed deadlines for feasibility studies and leaked an embarrassing memo exposing seven pages of potential problems to meet. deadlines and funding requirements.

Then, from March 2020, Covid cratered the city’s economy.

On March 18 of this year, in a presentation on the safety of 21st Street in Astoria, the city’s transport ministry said the project had been “halted in March 2020 before [environmental impact study] scope.

As economic activity has picked up and the city is currently teeming with federal stimulus funds, it also faces multi-billion dollar deficit projections for the next three years.

And money, especially from the federal government, is where the plan fails, according to Larry Penner, a transportation historian and advocate who worked as a federal transit official in approving grants for 31 years.

“Neither the city nor the Metropolitan Transportation Authority ever requested that this be included in the Federal Transportation Administration’s New Starts program,” said Penner. “It’s a competitive federal program. The BQX competes for this money with other projects in the city. The city competes with projects in all other states.

Those competitors, Penner said, include the MTA, the city’s own Department of Transportation, the New York and New Jersey Port Authority, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak.

The MTA, said Penner, is doing everything in its power to maintain current levels of service, track maintenance, signal repairs and other necessities.

Penner also said there appears to be a fatal lack of support from politicians.

“Ask Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) what his top 10 transportation priorities are – ask any local politician – and all you get is’ Humina, humina, humina …” by Jackie Gleason Senators and Congressmen can allocate money Borough President can allocate money for education Council members can allocate money No one has donated money penny for that, which tells you something.

He pointed out that even de Blasio’s former transport commissioner Polly Trottenberg, who now serves as a high-ranking assistant under US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, does not appear to have asked for the project to be considered.

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