April 18, By Hannah Wulkan
The proposed streetcar connecting Queens and Brooklyn along the waterfront may not be a financially viable plan, according to recently released documents.
The planned $2.5 billion Brooklyn-Queens Connector, or BQX, would run parallel to the East River, beginning in Astoria and ending in Red Hook, with about 30 stops, placed every half mile or so along the route.
However the controversial proposal may not be financially sound, according to an internal memo released by Politico last week.
The memo, which was sent from the “BQX Project Team” to Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen in February, outlines four serious issues with the proposal.
The most serious problem highlighted in the memo is the cost associated with moving and rehabilitating utilities that run along the proposed route, such as water, gas and sewer lines.
“Utility relocation continues to be the biggest single cost factor and if policies cannot be implemented to limit the impact, it has the possibility to make the project unaffordable and render implementation timelines unfeasible,” the memo reads.
The memo also points out that the BQX might not take in enough revenue to fund the entire project as was originally planned.
The other challenges outlined in the memo include putting together such a complicated network and finding expertise in the area for the first new streetcar in the city in 70 years, and the problematic elimination of parking and road space along the 16-mile route.
The memo goes on to outline three options as to how the city can move forward.
The “Green Light” approach has the project on track for a 2019 groundbreaking with a commitment of $39 million from the city in the 2018 fiscal year.
The “Yellow Light” option suggests moving more slowly and delaying the project while further transportation studies are conducted.
Finally the “Red Light” approach would result in a long term delay in the project, pushing the groundbreaking beyond 2020, if the project moves forward at all, while additional studies are conducted.
“Given the anticipated cost and complexity of implementing the BQX project and the likely need for the use of some City capital, there may be merit in undertaking additional study/review and options analysis prior to the City making a final decision on the project,” the memo reads, though it acknowledges that the additional study would push back the stated groundbreaking and opening years.
NY1’s Errol Lewis asked Mayor Bill de Blasio about the fate of the BQX project in an interview yesterday.
“We believe this is a vision that can work and can work on time,” de Blasio said. “But if it turns out, Errol, that upon further analysis we think there’s a funding gap, I’m going to be very open about that and that’s going to beg the question, how should we proceed? And we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”