March 3, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Residents have the chance to weigh in on the City’s $2.7 billion plan to build a streetcar from Astoria to Red Hook at a public workshop tonight.
The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at Bushwick Inlet Park, located at 85 Kent Ave. The March 3 workshop is one of five the City is hosting to gain feedback on the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) streetcar plan before it moves ahead with an environmental review.
The zero-emission BQX will connect an 11-mile corridor from Astoria, Queens to Red Hook, Brooklyn. It will pass through Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Downtown Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens to Red Hook and serve an estimated 400,000 New Yorkers — including 40,000 NYCHA residents, who live along the route.
In Greenpoint and Williamsburg, the BQX route would incorporate Manhattan Avenue, a small part of Greenpoint Avenue, Banker Street and Berry Street.
The route would also cross over a drawbridge above Newtown Creek into Queens– on its way through Long Island City to Astoria. The 1,700-foot span would need to be constructed for the plan and would include a pedestrian and bicycle pathway.
The 11-mile streetcar route would provide connections to 13 subway lines, more than 30 bus routes, nine NYC ferry landings and several Citi Bike stations.
The project is being spearheaded by the City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC), alongside the Department of Transportation (DOT). Representatives of both will be at the Tuesday night workshop.
The agencies plan to draft an environmental impact statement in spring 2021 after taking feedback from the public and stakeholders and conducting a scoping period.
The BQX was first announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2016 and originally consisted of a 16-mile railway running from Astoria to Sunset Park with a $2.5 billion price tag.
However, the Sunset Park leg of the proposed route was scrapped by the EDC, with the city-backed organization citing low predicted ridership and high construction costs. The estimated price tag increased to $2.7 billion despite the shorter route.
The City is hoping to fund half of the cost of building the streetcar through added tax revenue of adjacent real estate properties and needs federal funding to cover the remainder, according to the BQX website.
The final environmental impact statement for the BQX will completed in fall 2021, according to the DOT and EDC, but the City will have to complete multiple other processes before construction can begin.
After completing the public engagement and environmental impact stages, the City must secure federal funding, get government approval through a land use application process (ULURP) and begin the process for granting a franchise to enable the City to bring a private partner on board.