A rendering of the BQX on Franklin Street (via NYCEDC)

The NYC Economic Development Corporation is renewing its push to construct a zero emissions streetcar to run between Astoria and Red Hook with a series of community forums scheduled through March.

The $2.7 billion project would span 11 miles connecting waterfront communities in Queens and Brooklyn via a mode of transportation that harkens back to the early 1900s when streetcars ran through commercial districts like Manhattan Avenue. BQX tickets would cost $2.75 and would offer connections to NYC subways, buses, and ferry stops. 

Along with a new BQX website that launched last week, the city will host community workshops to “provide an opportunity for attendees to learn about and discuss the BQX planning work that’s been done to date, and the process moving forward.”


The scheduled workshops begin the first week in February (all workshops are 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.:

  • February 6: Downtown Brooklyn at Brooklyn Borough Hall
    (209 Joralemon St.)
  • February 13: Red Hook at P.S. 676
    (27 Huntington St.)
  • February 25: Astoria at
    Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave.)
  • March 3: Williamsburg / Greenpoint at Bushwick Inlet Park (Kent Avenue between Quay Street & N. 9 Street
  • March 10: Long Island City at CUNY Law School (2 Court Square W)

Two stops in Greenpoint are planned at Manhattan Avenue and Ash Street and on Manhattan Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue; the stops in Williamsburg include four on Berry Street at N. 13th Street, N. 7th Street, S. 2nd Street and Broadway, and one stop at Kent and Division Avenues.

The proposed BQX design runs through Berry Street
The BQX as mapped through Greenpoint

A crossing at Newtown Creek between Vernon Boulevard in Queens and Manhattan Avenue in Brooklyn would be provided by a drawbridge to span the 225 foot gap. “The bridge will also accommodate bicycle and pedestrian traffic along with the streetcars,” according to the design plan. The Pulaski Bridge replaced a former Newtown Creek crossing at the end of Manhattan Avenue known as the Vernon Avenue Bridge which was demolished in 1954.

Manhattan Avenue proposal (via NYC EDC)

For the BQX route on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, the proposed design places two street cars in the center with lanes for vehicles and cyclists at the street’s edge.

Manhattan Avenue rendering (via NYCEDC)

Headed south from Greenpoint, the BQX route traces Franklin and Banker Streets before traveling through Williamsburg via Berry Street until Division Avenue where the route moves to Kent Avenue.

Berry Street BQX rendering (via NYCEDC)
Berry Street BQX rendering (via NYCEDC)
 A capital estimate brings the total cost of the BQX to $2,727,000,000 and the city is claiming a $30 billion gross economic impact from the project.

Approximately $1.4 billion of the cost would be covered using the “value captured” model, according to Gothamist:

Now, the city claims that around $1.4 billion of the $2.7 billion price tag will be covered by a rise in real estate values—the “value capture” model—while the rest will come from federal funding. The city also suggests that the project will create $30 billion in gross economic impact over a period of 40 years.

The construction costs are coming from the Federal Transit Administration’s cost estimate guidelines, but the city has not revealed how it arrived at the $1.4 billion figure, or the $30 billion figure. At a City Council oversight hearing last spring, councilmembers whose districts overlap with the BQX route asked in vain. (At that hearing, the EDC did note that the $2.7 billion overall cost and the $1.4 billion value capture figure were “conservative.”)

The renewed timeline lists a potential BQX construction start date as January 2024 and an estimated completion as June 2029. First, an environmental review process and Uniform Land Use Review Procedure must be completed prior to the NYC Council making a decision on the BQX’s future.

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  1. Looks like a version of corporate welfare, this time instead for newly minted rich Greenpointers.

    Th east river ferries, used by the rich mainly are heavily subsided to the tune of $7 a ride unlike mass transit which gets a fraction. This is another billion dollar subsided SOP to the rich.

    If they want to build the BQX let the rich pay the unsubsidized fare and give lower income riders discounts like seniors get on the mass transit.

  2. With apologies to Tennessee Williams.
    it’s no joke Stella: A Streetcar Named DeBlasio is what we Desire
    – and what we need.

    The BQX will link rapidly growing neighborhoods on the Queens and Brooklyn waterfront, and support that growth.
    It will increase mobility and decrease air pollution, as it helps to relieve subway congestion.
    It will create a new easy-to-access bridge betweens Greenpoint & Long Island City that will accommodate both bikes and pedestrians across Newtown Creek.
    The low level streetcar access design will be especially useful for the elderly and disabled, or simply moms & dads with strollers.
    The BQX is good for our communities, it’s good for our City,
    it’s good for our businesses & manufacturers,
    it’s good for our entertainment and retail sectors,
    it’s good for tourism
    ….and it’s great for residents.
    While it is true that that waterfront is increasingly sprouting high-end building development, there are still considerable middle class and poorer residents & work places along the entire route, including several under-served NYCHA projects.
    For far too long the NYC transit system has been Manhattan-centered, with resources devoted to that narrow goal. It’s way past time time to recognize and better link our rapidly growing outer borough centers of residence, commerce and entertainment.
    Fostering new infrastructure to support the Queens and Brooklyn waterfronts will lift up these boroughs with greater tax revenue, job opportunities and prosperity. It will be a win for the City as a whole, and a template for similar future outer-borough infrastructure expansions & investments. We can’t wait decades for far more expensive options like the Second Avenue subway. We need to seize the day, and the future, with infrastructure opportunities like the BQX.

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