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De Blasio Should Back Gondola Plan Before the L Train Shutdown, Pols Say

By Gwynne Hogan | November 10, 2016 1:43pm
 Dan Levy of real estate site CityRealty wants to use trams to connect Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.
Dan Levy of real estate site CityRealty wants to use trams to connect Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan.
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East River Skyway

WILLIAMSBURG — North Brooklyn politicians are pushing the mayor to back a plan to build a gondola over the East River as an alternative transportation option between Manhattan and Brooklyn when the L train shuts down for repairs.

"This is the coolest thing we could do for the neighborhood," said State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, one of three politicians to sign the Nov. 3 letter sent to the mayor in favor of the East River Skyway. "I don’t want to denigrate the BQX but this is even a greater plan to have a gondola going from Brooklyn to Manhattan forever."

"They did it in London in 18 months," said Lentol, referring to a cable car built there for the 2012 Olympics. "I don’t see why we can’t do it here fast enough to get it done before the L train shuts down."

U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and City Councilman Stephen Levin also signed onto the letter, which calls the city to consider expediting the East River Skyway, which would make trips between Williamsburg and Delancey Street in six minutes and could carry 100,000 people a day with little impact to the air quality, according cable car advocates. 

Increased ferry service on the other hand, another way transit advocates are looking to prepare for the L train shutdown, is expected to significantly worsen air pollution.

The mayor's press office didn't respond to a request for comment immediately. 

Dan Levy, head of the website CityRealty, has been pushing for the East River Skyway since 2014, though his idea gained new traction once the MTA announced it would have to shut down the L train between Manhattan and Brooklyn for 18 months starting in 2019 in order to do major repairs on the Canarsie Tunnel which flooded during Hurricane Sandy.

Levy is working to raise the $134 million dollar project so that it can be mostly privately funded, another big plus to politicians who signed on in support of the project last week.

He expects monthly passes would cost around $25 and has yet to announce a Board of Directors or where they'll be getting money from.

The construction work includes building three gondola stations, one at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge, one by the water and above Delancey Street between Chrystie and Forsyth streets.