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Future of the BQX Streetcar Will Be in the Hands of the Next Mayor, De Blasio Says

BQX Rending on 21st Street in Astoria (EDC+DOT)

Sept. 4, 2020 By Allie Griffin

The future of the $2.7 billion streetcar connecting western Queens to the Brooklyn waterfront will be up to the next mayor of New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday.

The coronavirus pandemic and fiscal constraints have significantly delayed the timeline of the project, dubbed the Brooklyn Queens Connector or BQX.

The city had just begun the environmental review process for the 11-mile streetcar project in February but the pandemic brought the process to a screeching halt. It was scheduled to begin scoping and public hearings in May and June, but has been delayed indefinitely.

Yesterday, de Blasio said the next administration will decide the fate of the project, as his term ends in 2021.

“We’re going to continue to do the work to prepare,” he said at a press briefing. “The decisions will have to be made by-and-large in the next administration given the time that’s been lost here.”

The project also comes at a time when New York City faces a multi-billion-dollar budget hole due to economic fallout from the pandemic.

At the end of April, de Blasio said he was unsure whether the city had the funds to cover its share of the costs — given the budget crisis. He said that “substantial federal funding” was needed to make the project a reality.

Critics of the BQX argue that the project is not worth the multi-billion dollar cost. Many transit advocates say the money would be better spent on improving MTA buses and bus lanes, which cost much less.

The BQX does, however, have its supporters. A coalition of local businesses along the route have been advocating for it, along with developers and business improvement groups.

The streetcar, which was first announced by de Blasio in 2016, would connect Astoria, Queens to Red Hook, Brooklyn.

Critics also say the project would serve mostly wealthy neighborhoods along the route and benefit real estate developers.

However, the city estimates that the light rail would serve 40,000 NYCHA residents, who live along the route, including those at Queensbridge and Ravenswood Houses.

De Blasio is still an advocate for a light rail system, pointing to its success in other cities across the country.

“Again, a lot of the decisions will have to be deferred to the future, but the more we can build out mass transit in the city, the better off we’re going to be,” he said.

Proposed BQX Route (EDC+DOT)

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20 Comments

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Vic Pincin

So 60 days till the big orange clown is gone ( hopefully) and 400 and a few days till Blozo the clown is gone too .

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PeterT.

Hey Vic
Im voting for Trump again.
I bet u enjoyed getting $1200 stimulus ck . Thanks to our Prez made it possible

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Trump redistributed taxpayer wealth to give everyone free money

You’re right, Trump socialist handout made it possible. Shame about the $15 billion in new taxes to pay for the wall that isn’t built yet.

Wasn’t Mexico supposed to pay for it?

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Reggie

One of the only good things to happen under De Blasio is the cancellation of this stupid project.

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Jasmine

So it will be in the hands of Chirlane McCray. I really hope she runs for mayor. We need a woman and person of color as mayor.
Just like Kamala Harris Chirlane McCray has so many supporters and can relate to people very well. She is us.

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Yoga for the homeless

McCray and her husband should be in jail for squandering and/or stealing 1.2 billion dollars of taxpayers’ money.

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Gardens Watcher

We need a mayor who can manage NYC and get us back up on our feet. Who can make the tough fiscal choices given the financial hole we’re in. She can’t do either of those things.

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BdB needs to resign

They really should axe this stupid flood prone developer plan to put in a streetcar. Even if the city had the money (which it doesn’t) it wouldn’t work because the streets are too congested with traffic, double parked ubers, cyclists, and buses.

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John Has Awaken KAG 20202

Hopefully, the next REPUBLICAN Mayor.

De Blasio is are a disgrace To this city. Along with Cuomo these two idiots are single handedly destroying the once beautiful NYC. Now 2/3 or the restaurant businesses are being eradicated.

But hey! It’s all for our health right? That 99% chance survival rate China virus.

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cant wait for the day he's gone

so will solving all the crime and hotel homeless issues, wait until next mayor! great leadership

Until then we can all stay in our homes, if we dont get evicted

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LIC Direct

Maybe seven Mayors down the line before anything gets done or built. This city must reinvent itself, first NYC needs to be cleansed of the corrupt politicians that run this city, then it can become a world class center of tech,commerce,medicine,higher learning and cultural capital of the United States. Improve and change the public schools convert them into Charters Schools, improve in quality of life and invest in the housing stock, bring in jobs that will attract the best and the brightest. In two terms this crappy mayor DiBlasio and his shitty city council made of misfits and political social climbers have single handily destroyed NY in six years. Look at LIC could have been the tech capital of the East Coast with Amazon, But No… Jimmy Van Bramer and Michael Gianaris single handily killed it. No vision from these politicians. Now we have a city overrun with homeless, criminals, failed Bail Reform that released thousands of recividist criminals from Rikers into society, bail was a way to keep these repeat offenders confined and off the streets. Now multiple murders via gun violence, huge uptick in crime just crazy and where our local politicos hiding out? Well Gianaris is in the Hamptons and JVB is antiquing in Upstate NY.

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Larry Penner

This comes as no surprise that due to the financial crises as a result of COVID-19 on the municipal budget, Mayor Bill de Blasio has abandoned advancing his $2.7 billion Brookyn Queens Streetcar Connector project known as BQX. There was never a guarantee that the Federal Transit Administration would pay for 50% of the cost. Dreams of Amazon doing the same have come and gone, since they canceled coming to Long Island City. There is no funding for this project in the MTA $51 billion 2020 – 2024 Five Year Capital Plan. There is no commitment to use future Manhattan congestion pricing toll revenues starting in 2022 to help fund this project. It remains to be seen if this project will be included within the pending long range MTA 2020 – 2040 Capital Needs Assessment Plan document. There is no proposed funding to advance this project in either the city or state budgets. No one knows if the next Mayor will support this project and make it a priority. Mayor de Blasio never requested approval to enter the FTA New Starts process for future funding. The project is not included within the February 2020 FTA New Starts report for federal fiscal year 2021. Don’t count on seeing it in the next FTA New Starts report for federal fiscal year 2022. Successful completion of this process averages five years before there is an approved Federal Full Funding Grant Agreement in place.

Mayor de Blasio’s plan to finance this project by taking a percentage of property taxes (value capture) on new development was always robbing Peter to pay Paul. This would reduce the amount of money available for police, fire, sanitation and other essential municipal services. Both the NYC DOT and Economic Development Corporation have no experience in design, construction or operations of street car systems. Mayor de Blasio never asked the MTA to serve as a project sponsor and system operator. The MTA, not wanting to use its own funding, would have to enter the project into the FTA New Starts program. MTA, NYC DOT, Port Authority, NJ Transit and Amtrak are all attempting to qualify many other projects for the same federal New Starts program.

Don’t count on riding the BQX in your life time. Instead, try running simple limited stop bus service on the same route. The MTA NYC Transit Queens Bus Network Redesign Draft Plan currently on hold proposed creation of the new QT 1 bus route. It would cross the Pulaski Bridge to connect Astoria, Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and downtown Brooklyn. This might make for a low cost easy to implement improvement rather than the $2.7 billion BQX.

(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 NY Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for grants supporting billions in capital projects and programs on behalf of the MTA NYC Transit bus and subway, NYC DOT Staten Island Ferry & private franchised bus operators along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ)

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Larry Penner

Rather than spend $2,2 billion to build a light rail system which could take a decade or more, why not ask the LIRR to resume service on this corridor which ended in 1998? They could run a two-car scoot service reconnecting Long Island City, Glendale and Middle Village with other communities including Richmond Hill and other intermediate stops to Jamaica.
The LIRR could use existing equipment which would afford far early implementation of service versus Light Rail. This would provide connections east bound to the J/Z and E subway lines, Kennedy Airport via Train to Plane and Jamaica LIRR Station. Queens residents traveling to jobs and colleges in Nassau and Suffolk counties would have access to all LIRR branches except the Port Washington line. Ditto for those traveling to the Barclay Center and downtown Brooklyn via the LIRR Atlantic Avenue branch.
There would also be connections west bound at either Hunters Point or Long Island City LIRR stations to the No. 7 subway line.

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Yoga for the homeless

Sounds like a good idea but due to rampant corruption and incompetence in NY, it will probably cost a thousand times more than it should. Just another expensive boondoggle.

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