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Pol Proposes Closing Bedford Avenue to Cars Under Streetcar Plan

By Gwynne Hogan | June 2, 2016 11:19am
 Bedford Avenue could be turned into a pedestrian plaza and a right-of-way for the proposed streetcar, city councilman Antonio Reynoso suggested.
Bedford Avenue could be turned into a pedestrian plaza and a right-of-way for the proposed streetcar, city councilman Antonio Reynoso suggested.
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DNAinfo/Gwynne Hogan

WILLIAMSBURG — The bustling thoroughfare Bedford Avenue could be turned into a pedestrian plaza and a right-of-way for the proposed streetcar, a city councilman suggested at a Wednesday night.

"How about we shut Bedford down and make it a plaza," said Councilman Antonio Reynoso who represents Williamsburg and parts of Bushwick. "The businesses would love it, it would be a destination."

Reynoso stressed that the Bedford Avenue pedestrian plaza was just an idea and that Williamsburg residents should be vocal about their thoughts, concerns and suggestions regarding the waterfront streetcar, officially dubbed the Brooklyn-Queens Connector or BQX, as it grinds through the planning phases.

"I want my community to flood the BQX with ideas," the councilman said.


City Councilman Antonio Reynoso floated an idea to close traffic on Bedford Avenue to create a pedestrian plaza and right-of-way for the planned trolley.

The remarks came at a community meeting Wednesday night, the third of its kind to be held in neighborhoods along the route of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector. The 16-mile streetcar plan, backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio's office and waterfront real estate developers, would connect Sunset Park to Astoria.

Ya-ting Liu, the recently appointed executive director of Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, said in recent community meetings the group has participated in in Red Hook and Astoria, they've fielded dozens of comments from residents who were looking for more details about basic logistics of the rail system. 

Williamsburg residents who gathered Wednesday hoped the streetcar would connect to local subway lines, would be handicapped accessible and that jobs created during construction would go to locals.

Others said they would use the streetcar to travel to Long Island City to shop or to other destinations along the water. 

"I would definitely be taking the streetcar to downtown Brooklyn," said Pedro Valdez, 24. "The B62 bus is unreliable. Sometimes I have to take two transfers. [It takes] at least 45 minutes."

And while many residents voiced support for the project, Leah Archibald the director of Evergreen Exchange, an industrial business advocacy group in North Brooklyn, worried that the streetcar, which will be funded in part by property taxes along the waterfront, could hurt the manufacturing sector.

"We don't really need any more revitalization," Archibald said, pointing out to the thriving industrial areas all along the waterfront from Sunset Park and Gowanus, to Greenpoint.

"These are vibrant manufacturing neighborhoods," she said. "I'm concerned about displacement of manufacturing businesses and working class jobs."