What can be done about the crumbling BQE?

Good morning. It’s Tuesday. We’ll be looking at the highway everyone loves to hate – the BQE We’ll also catch up on what the Republican candidates for governor said during their debate last night.

The Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, infamous for its tire-wrenching potholes and endless growling traffic, is in decline. Too many overweight trucks have worn down the road surface. Road salt, snow and rain have eaten away at the concrete and steel foundations below.

You’ve probably read about this before. In the past six years, at least half a dozen plans have been put forth to fix the BQE, as the highway is known.

Now Mayor Eric Adams wants to jump start repairing or rebuilding the BQE. In fact, he sets a deadline to start construction within five years. He wants the work to follow a plan yet to be developed.

“Our moment is now,” he said in a statement. “I will not wait decades and unnecessarily spend hundreds of millions of extra taxpayer dollars when we can and must start rebuilding this vital transport artery today.”

His mention of money apparently referred to a plan announced last year by his predecessor, Bill de Blasio. The idea was to implement a relatively temporary solution, the way things like that go – supporting the BQE for 20 years, while the city came up with a permanent solution at a cost of more than $500 million.

Elements of the de Blasio plan have now been put on hold, and city officials said Adams is in “active discussions” with state officials to overhaul the entire 18-mile highway, not just the 1.5-mile section that controls the city and that de Blasio was seeking rehabilitation. Adams said accelerating a full-scale plan to “reimagine and rebuild the BQE” would allow the city to benefit from billions in federal infrastructure money. “We have an opportunity that only comes once in a generation,” he said, adding that “we seize it.”

That might be easier than when de Blasio was mayor and Andrew Cuomo was governor. Contrary to the animosity that defined their relationship, Adams seems to get along well with Governor Kathy Hochul, who replaced Cuomo when he stepped down last summer.

Still, my colleague Winnie Hu writes that some elected officials and community leaders doubt that five years is enough for the city to push through a plan. And the year after the next mayoral election, five years would have passed.

“There are no easy fixes — if there were, we would have done it many years ago,” said Lincoln Restler, a Brooklyn city councilor who criticized the Adams administration for not aggressively making repairs. “This is off the track because it’s so hard.”

City officials warned in 2016 that if the BQE failed to get attention, trucks would have to be banned by 2026. panel recommended that two of the six lanes be closed on a half-mile stretch of the BQE. That was done last summer.

That was three years after city officials presented two options to rebuild the BQE — options rejected by critics, including Adams, then Brooklyn’s city president. One option was to close off the Brooklyn Heights boardwalk for six years and build a temporary road above it to carry traffic while the long-term work continued below.

Later, the city council weighed in on an $11 billion plan to tear down the highway and replace it with a three-mile tunnel.

Samuel Schwartz, a transportation engineer who was an official with the city’s Department of Transportation for nearly 20 years, predicted there would be no consensus on how to proceed. He suggested that Adams and Hochul simply set a deadline to come up with a new plan — and then carry on despite almost certain opposition.

“If they’re willing to make a decision in a year,” he said, “it’s a good plan.”


Weather

Enjoy a partially sunny day near the low 80s. The evening is usually clear with temperatures around the high 60s.

ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING

Valid until June 20 (June).


The attacks started early Monday in the debate between Republican candidates for governor of New York. Representative Lee Zeldin attacked Harry Wilson, a business transformation specialist who worked in the Obama administration, as a “never Trumper.” He referred to Rob Astorino, the former Westchester County director, as “Rolex Rob.”

Wilson objected that Zeldin was “a broken candidate” and “a Cuomo clone”, referring to former Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat. Zeldin, who was a senator for four years before being elected to Congress in 2014, replied that “the Cuomo attack is ridiculous.”

The fourth candidate in the race, Andrew Giuliani, competed remotely — he wasn’t in the studio with the others at the CBS Broadcast Center, where only vaccinated people are allowed in.

They spend an hour sparring on topics from gun control to abortion and their respect for President Donald J. Trump. My colleague Jesse McKinley writes that they were trying to polish their conservative credentials as the June 28 primaries approached. They also did their best to differentiate themselves from their Democratic counterparts, most notably Government Leader Kathy Hochul, who is considered a favorite in her party’s primaries.

With a Supreme Court ruling expected soon that could overturn the 49-year-old Roe v. Wade ruling, none of the four directly called for Roe to be reversed, although several said there should be restrictions on who can perform abortions and when women can do it. find them. Wilson, the only candidate in the race to support abortion rights, said he was “not active on any social platform”, while Astorino said abortion remained a “very difficult choice” for women.

The debate also took place against the background of the hearings of the House Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Giuliani, the son of former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, said he was “deeply honored” to have worked in Trump’s White House, calling Trump “a wonderful president” and “a good friend.” He said he hoped Trump would run again.

Zeldin has been a staunch Trump and voted to undo the results of the 2020 election. “If President Trump wants to run,” Zeldin said, “he has to run, and I think he will win.”

Astorino, who was the GOP nominee for governor in 2014 and lost to Cuomo, called January 6 “a terrible day in our nation’s history” and said Trump “bears some responsibility” for the attack. “But I think most people would say we need to move on now,” he added, calling the congressional hearings “complete political theatre.”

Dear Diary:

I was in an uptown No. 1 in November 2013 when an elderly woman got in on 34th Street. I offered her my seat and she kindly accepted it.

At 66th Street she got up to get out and started to walk past me.

“Let me guess,” I said. “You’re going to the opera at the Met.”

She laughed.

“I’m in the orchestra,” she replied.

I was on my way to the gig that night and we walked to Lincoln Center together.

“I play the glass harmonica, an instrument invented by Benjamin Franklin,” she said.

When we broke up, I said I would try to come to the orchestra pit and look at her instrument. Then I went to see my granddaughter Amanda.

We had plenty of time before the performance, so we walked forward, peered into the well and saw my subway attendant.

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