After a recently leaked city hall memo suggested that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed streetcar connecting Brooklyn and Queens may be both “unaffordable” and “unfeasible,” the future of the project is unclear.
Originally announced in February 2016, the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, known as the BQX, would run along a 14-mile route, connecting Astoria, Queens to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Before hiring the former chairman of the Toronto Transit Commission, Adam Giambrone, to head the project, the city estimated the cost of the streetcar would be $2.5 billion, generating an estimated economic impact of $25 billion over the next 30 years. Utilizing existing rails from 20th century trolley cars, the trip from end-to-end would last about 30 minutes and cost you a swipe of your MetroCard. The route has yet to be finalized, but the city proposes the streetcar travel through Greenpoint via Franklin Street, Manhattan Avenue, or McGuiness Boulevard, necessitating the redesign of the Pulaski Bridge or the construction of an alternate path over the Newtown Creek.Continue reading →
Get to The Woods (48 S. 4th Street) on Thursday, December 8th from 6-8pm for an evening of socializing and learning about the proposedBQXstreetcar system. It’s planned to run 16 miles along the Queens/Brooklyn waterfront and to be emissions-free, without overhead wires or underground power sources. If all goes as planned, groundbreaking would start in 2019-2020, and if it’s going to look anything like their fancy Photoshopped renderings, it could be pretty cool. Continue reading →
Thought you found a good deal on an apartment? According to this piece from Curbed, a new batch of apartments at 5 Blue Slip (part of the Greenpoint Landing project) will have options as low as $393 a month for low-income renters.
According to this story from DNAinfo, four shelter residents have had bad reactions to heroin they purchased near the intersection of Manhattan Avenue and Clay Street. According to one shelter manager, easy access to the drug on the northern end of Manhattan Avenue is causing serious problems in the area. Continue reading →
However, before we begin a new multi-billion dollar project, we need to evaluate the time, expense and displacement it will create and decide if those billions of dollars might be better spent on subways or other existing forms of mass transportation. The city says that the streetcar will be ready in 2024, but critics feel this is a wildly optimistic timeframe.
Washington D.C experienced years of delay and large cost overruns on a much smaller streetcar line, and the New York plan is far bigger than what any other American cities have recently built. The de Blasio administration envisions 30 stops over a 16-mile route and 60 streetcar vehicles. The very scope of the project almost ensures many more years of delay than Washington’s tiny system.
Another issue that many have with the streetcar is that in a city already short on parking, the rail line would eliminate hundreds of parking spots, so that drivers all along the route would be vehement enemies. It is hard to imagine City Council members backing a plan that would draw the ire of their driving constituents, especially if they never take the streetcar line. It is still not clear if the streetcar would be woven into the subway system or if it would be an independent system. There is also the huge question of whether the system would honor MetroCards. It is hard to imagine that many riders who already pay a lot for public transportation would shell out even more money for the tram if the streetcar fare costs extra. A limited ridership would mean that the billion-dollar cost of the streetcar cannot be justified.
There is one other problem with bridges: bureaucracy. Besides the time and expense of constructing a bridge, building spans today mandates conducting long and costly environmental impact studies that could take years and push back the 2024 date even further into the future. Let’s not even begin to contemplate the delays legal challenges to the light rail line would create.
Perhaps the more than $2 billion earmarked for the trolley could be better spent on a renovation of the inadequate G line. Certainly improvements to the G would have a greater impact on the local transportation situation in the near future. Clearly, the city needs to explain how the plan for the streetcar is more positive for Greenpoint than a subway overhaul.
With Mayor de Blasio’s announcement of an imminent light rail line along the East River, history could be preparing to repeat itself.
For many years, Greenpoint had only two mass transit options: the ferry and the trolley. Both could soon play a huge role in local mass transit, so let’s recall the history of the Greenpoint Trolley. Continue reading →