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Expensive BQX Streetcar Not Needed in Downtown Brooklyn, Residents Say

By Alexandra Leon | November 16, 2016 2:47pm

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Downtown Brooklyn residents “don’t need” the mayor’s proposed streetcar running through their neighborhood, locals told city officials at a Tuesday meeting, citing the high cost to taxpayers and the disruption to traffic.

Officials from the Department of Transportation and the Economic Development Corporation presented proposed routes for the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, dubbed the BQX, through Downtown Brooklyn and the surrounding neighborhoods at a Community Board 2 Transportation Committee Meeting.

Proposed routes such as Flushing Avenue and Cadman Plaza East would take riders past the transit-starved Brooklyn Navy Yard and make connections to transit hubs including Borough Hall.

City officials said adjustments would ultimately have to be made to local streets to accommodate the new streetcar.

“You cannot maintain all the lanes of traffic, maintain all the sidewalk width, all the bike lanes and all parking lanes — that’s not possible,” BQX Director Adam Giambrone said.  “There will be tradeoffs that need to be made.”

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Residents and community board members raised opposition to the streetcar — which will cost $2.5 billion to build and $30 million annually to operate — calling the costs unnecessary and instead suggested the city spend the money on additional buses in the area.

“No one goes from Red Hook to Astoria, so if you need more transportation from Red Hook to the F train, put a couple more buses in there,” said Fort Greene resident Lucy Koteen.

While the proposed streetcar is meant to provide transportation for underserved residents like people in public housing, the BQX won’t help residents at places such as the Farragut Houses in Vinegar Hill, who sometimes don’t travel outside the Downtown Brooklyn area, said one community board member.

“We don’t need it, we can walk to everything we want to get to,” she said. “It’s really going to affect the life of everyone that lives there and not in a good way.”

Residents also questioned how the streetcar would affect traffic, citing factors such as the removal of parking spaces along Atlantic Avenue for the BQX at the same time plans are in the works to reconstruct the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway near the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

Ultimately, the city will choose routes based on community feedback collected at meetings like Tuesday's and scheduled meetings with other local groups, officials said.

“There’s a lot of lines on this page, that means that there’s a lot of options on the table,” said Aaron Sugiura, director of transit policy and planning at the DOT.

Earlier this month, the DOT released several route options for the streetcar in each neighborhood from Astoria to Sunset Park

In Community District 2 — which includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights — the BQX could take riders past the Brooklyn Navy Yard and under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

The BQX would run along waterfront neighborhoods and stop at 30 stations about every half mile in Astoria, Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Red Hook, and Sunset Park.

On Thursday night, BQX officials will make another public presentation, at the Community Board 6 transportation committee meeting in Red Hook.