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BQX may not be financially feasible, according to internal city memo

Rendering of the BQX at Queens Plaza

April 18, 2017 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.

Proposed route

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.”

BQX Memo by Queens Post on Scribd

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17 Comments

yasss

this will only favor developers and those looking to increase value along the waterfront and areas which have not yet been rezoned.

also, get the fucking MTA running smoothly and then attempt something as ridiculous as this. Fix our antiquated subway system

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JQ LLC

Some study. Despite all the ways this line will be impossible to construct, and not only in the scheduled time frames, it seems to still encourage the building of it.

Besides, anything that impacts negatively on the predatory developers interests and bottom lines usually get thrown in the garbage pail by former Goldman Sachs rep on urban policy and development and sociopath Alicia Glen

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MRLIC

neil

I agree with you about the airport stop. The wwhole project is to give developers more space to OVERBUILD LIC/ASTORIA and fatten politicians pockets. It will also gentrify the areas that haven’t been already. DumBlasio wants this and also wants 4 more years to ruin NYC in he process. I would never vote for him, I did the first time, he lied and did not do anything to help this city.

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neil

Without a stop at La Guardia Airport, the BQX is unviable. Real Estate taxes would need to be increased by 17% just to build the infrastructure without the airport connection. I predict that the project will cost well over $2.5B and may never see the light of day.

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Frank

A better solution would be to extend the W to LGA over the Grand Central, skipping the Ditmars stop.

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MRLIC

young_man! It appears money will be spent(wasted) on red-yellow-green light study. Thank DumBlasio.

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Vishal Parmar

The idea is not bad as it’s working on Jersey. It with NJ Transit’s Hudson Bergan Light Rail as well as the Newark Light Rail along with other cities like in Trenton, Boston, Philadelphia, Kansas City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. The G Line is not sufficient. The G Line either needs to be expanded with more service or add this Lightrail but it should service LGA in Queens then to Astoria and down to Red Hook servicing all the stops in between but it needs to go further into Bay Ridge Brooklyn.

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Anonymous

HBLR brings people from underserved areas to the PATH train. The BQX is only useful for Red Hook in that regard. In every other place on the line, people are going to walk the same distance they currently walk right past the BQX to get to the subway station nearest to them. The BQX gets better if a 2nd line is added which goes the entire length of Queens Blvd and over the Queensboro Bridge to a reopened streetcar terminal at 2nd Ave. Even better if you can find a way to extend it to Columbus Circle. Line 3 down Grand from Williamsburg to Queens Blvd. Line 4, Main Street from Union Turnpike to Flushing and then College Point Blvd to College Point. In fact, you do the other 3 lines and you can get rid of the BQX. Any of those routes would see much more traffic. The BQX is little more than a weekend bar hopper line.

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neil

I have traveled on most of those lines. The problem is that in NYC it is much more expensive to built transportation infrastructure. The example of SF is really not a good comparison as their equipment is aging and their semi subway has massive tunnels which can accommodate light rail. That’s simply not possible along the waterfront and in anycase the G could never be built out to LGA. What’s more likely going to happen is that a combination of ferry services and app car based services like UBER and LYFT will make the BQX an unappealing option. 30 stops just takes too much time.

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not a bad idea but looking towards the future...

I’m all for the BQX when the idea came out. However, with the advent of autonomous cars in the very near future and the hassle and costs of the permanent infrastructure changes needed for the BQX, it may be easier/better/cheaper to go with something else. A new bus/tram system without all the wires and rails built into the roads and new bridges and etc that would cost billions can be served by having a new bus/tram system. They can dedicate some lanes as they were going to do with the light rail but much cheaper. And I agree with neil that with all the new transit options out and will come out in the future, this plan already looks outdated. That’s how technology works unfortunately, they age out a new idea just like that.

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young_man!

Crazy idea that belongs in the trash can before we spend more tax dollars on “studies and master plans”.

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MRLIC

I agree with The real LIC man. It is a failed project just to give more Yuppies/Hipsters transportation from their Overpriced Luxury Condos/ Apts., the developers want to build in Hallets Cove and other areas of Astoria/LIC to further gentrify the older tenants out.

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The real LIC man

The only folks who will ride the streetcar are phonies from Westport who moved here with their parents’ trust money. This sham is clearly not for real Long Island City-ites. Go back to Westport and take your preppy streetcar with you.

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