South Brooklyn pols feel like their respective districts are being taken for a ride with the proposal of a streetcar system for the waterfront between Sunset Park and Astoria, with no plans for added transportation on the way for their residents.
The light rail line — proposed by Mayor Bill de Blasio during his State of the City address on Thursday, February 4 — is the brainchild of the Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) — a nonprofit organization consisting of transit experts, real estate developers and other businesspeople.
According to the mayor’s office, the new transit line would “connect isolated neighborhoods to new job centers” and “open up opportunity for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers” while costing the same amount as a single-ride Metrocard. The BQX will also link to 13 New York City Housing Authroity (NYCHA) developments housing more than 40,000 tenants – roughly 10 percent of the city’s public housing residents.
However, the proposed $2.5 billion line, although given a timeline of roughly five years to complete, with a public review process necessary before final plans are implemented, has rattled elected officials in Southern Brooklyn.
“How does the mayor’s new $2.5 billion transportation plan address the needs of underserved Southern Brooklyn residents?” Councilmember Mark Treyger, State Senator Diane Savino, Assemblymembers William Colton and Pamela Harris, and Councilmembers Chaim Deutsch and Vincent Gentile, demanded in a joint statement. “We will not tolerate city administration transportation proposals that leave out Southern Brooklyn and other areas of the city that are in dire need of transit upgrades.”
The officials went on to address the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) recent $29 billion capital plan, which left out any improvements or increases in transportation for Southern Brooklyn.
“Bay Ridge residents are dealing with the poor quality of service and frequent delays of the R line. In Coney Island, we have felt the sting of cuts to express bus service with the loss of the x29 and Saturday service on the x28. Residents from Coney Island to Gravesend to Midwood have been clamoring for the return of the F express for more than 30 years,” the elected officials’ statement continued. “Plans to improve transportation options for New Yorkers need to benefit all of the city’s residents. A five-borough transportation plan must account for all regions of the boroughs.”
As far as a five-borough plan, de Blasio announced a proposal for a five borough ferry service in last year’s State of the City Address that will link neighborhoods in South Brooklyn to destinations across the city. However, in that too, South Brooklyn pols originally felt overlooked as Coney Island was left out of the initial ferry plan.
“That service is being implemented on-time and on-budget, and it will launch as planned in 2017,” said Wiley Norvell, the mayor’s deputy press secretary. “When completed, for the price of a subway fare, residents of Bay Ridge and Coney Island will be linked to jobs and destinations in Sunset Park, North Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan. We are working to expand better transit options for all New Yorkers.”