New Proposal Would Replace BQE With Tunnel, Open Up Brooklyn Bridge Park

One plan involves tearing down the highway entirely and replacing it with a three-mile tunnel, while the other calls for a "capped highway" where the BQE is replaced by a street-level roadway with a deck over it

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Among all the possibilities proposed to fix the much-maligned Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, one sounds remarkably straightforward: bury it.

The idea was put forward in two different plans the New York City Council is exploring after a 60-page engineering report was released Monday. The debate on what to do with the outdated highway that runs along the waterfront connecting Brooklyn and Queens has raged on for years.

Of course, putting the highway underground — either partially or entirely — is not nearly as simple as it sounds. One plan involves tearing down the highway entirely and replacing it with a three-mile tunnel that runs underneath the two boroughs. That project would cost $11 billion, according to the report.

The other option, called the "capped highway plan," calls for the BQE to be replaced by a street-level roadway with a deck over it. That plan would expand Brooklyn Bridge Park, making it one of the largest in the borough.

The latter plan would cost $3.5 billion and take six years to complete.

While some were open to the plans, assuming they preserve beloved parts of the area like the Brooklyn Heights promenade, at least one city official wasn't sold at all.

In a statement to NBC New York, City Comptroller Scott Stringer said NYC should not be "spending billions of dollars doubling down on car infrastructure. Instead we should plan for and invest in the sustainable future New Yorkers deserve. That means investing more in public transit, centering communities and connecting people long divided by highways like the BQE."

A transportation manager and Brooklyn resident agrees with Stringer's thoughts.

"It's like this awful sort of snake running through the city," said Michael King. "Just please cut its head off."

King said that the safety concerns stemming from the dilapidated BQE — which was built in the 1940s — meantime is of the essence when it comes to fixes.

"[The highway] is supposed to have been falling down I think for the last 20-some odd years, and it's going to because this is what happens when you build bridges and put a bunch of cars on them," King said.

Time could be an issue if the city chooses to build a tunnel. In Boston, the "Big Dig" construction project was plagued by delays and overruns — causing their tunnel project to take more than a decade and cost $24 billion.

The mayor and Department of Transportation would have to approve any plan proposed by the City Council. A public hearing on the topic is scheduled for Tuesday.

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