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Press Release: 1/11/19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 11th, 2019

CONTACT: Austin Finan, afinan@mercuryllc.com, 917-828-3494

A BETTER WAY NYC PARTNERS WITH THE REGIONAL PLAN ASSOCIATION TO ANALYZE BQE RESTORATION PLANS

Community leaders slam City officials for failing to explore options to reduce pollution and traffic across New York

Preeminent urban research and advocacy group assists A Better Way NYC in evaluating transportation options

BROOKLYN, NY—A Better Way NYC, a grassroots, nonprofit organization focused on the environmental, economic and community impact of repairing the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), today announced it has partnered with the Regional Plan Association (RPA) to assess alternative BQE restoration plans – with a specific focus on reducing pollution and traffic across the city.

Founded nearly a century ago, the RPA is the premier urban research and advocacy group dedicated to improving the quality of life, sustainability and economic health of the New York metropolitan region. Since 1922, the RPA has provided guidance on critical infrastructure challenges facing New Yorkers, including the construction of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Hudson Yards and the rebuilding of downtown Manhattan following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. A Better Way NYC, a community organization opposed to the city’s proposed six-lane, multi-year mega-highway above the Brooklyn Heights promenade, has urged city leaders to come up with alternatives to rebuild the BQE. 

“Despite outrage from impacted communities and warnings from environmental experts, the City refuses to explore alternatives to its preferred approach to the BQE overhaul,” said Hilary Jager of A Better Way NYC. “While Governor Cuomo is bringing in outside help to avoid the devastating consequences of closing L train service, Mayor de Blasio is ramming through a closed-door plan that will increase pollution and traffic. Theirs is a plan that looks to the past for inspiration.  Together with the RPA, we challenge the City to plan for the future.  We look forward to working with the RPA to reimagine and rebuild the BQE in a way that positions the city as a global leader on environmental and transportation issues.”

Specifically, A Better Way NYC is partnering with the RPA to conduct a study that will evaluate the impact of a range of realistic transportation options, such as congestion pricing and HOV restrictions, and how they may reduce the amount of passenger and commercial traffic on the BQE. A reduction in overall traffic would expand the restoration options by reducing the number of lanes required both during and after reconstruction.

The new partnership comes on the heels of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer calling on Mayor de Blasio and Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to revisit the flawed process behind its BQE restoration plans.

As noted by Comptroller Stringer, the City’s proposed plan to replace the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with an elevated, six-lane highway while repairing the BQE fails to provide long-term improvements to transportation infrastructure that will prepare New York for its future mobility needs, address the city’s worsening traffic woes, and take into account the City’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.  The proposed plan would also increase exposure to air pollution and other environmental hazards, remove landmarks and open green space, and destroy an icon beloved by generations of New York City residents and visitors.

The Comptroller noted concern that the plan “was devised without reasonable consideration for concurrent administrative initiatives and goals, sufficient thought to future traffic patterns, and consideration of important community concerns.” In addition to questioning whether the proposed rehabilitation was aligned with the City’s greenhouse reduction initiatives, the Comptroller questioned if the plan took into account:

  • Proposed improvements to the city’s rail freight distribution system, which would reduce traffic on the BQE;
  • Congestion ricing, placing a fee on vehicles entering Manhattan below 60th Street, that could further reduce traffic on the BQE; and
  • The long-term environmental impact on the surrounding community from property damage, dust and debris.

New Yorkers were stunned when they learned in September that the New York City DOT recommends replacing the Promenade with an elevated highway. The DOT first unveiled that proposal seven months into its Environmental Impact Statement process, which deprived the community of its right to comment on the impacts of the proposal that merit further analysis.  To this day, the NYC DOT and the City have remained silent on the environmental consequences that will arise from the construction of a highway on the national landmark, including the impact on air quality, public health, noise, historic resources, open space, neighborhood character, socioeconomic conditions, quality of life and other environmental consequences.

A Better Way NYC is a grassroots, nonprofit organization committed to identifying alternatives to the NYC DOT’s proposed BQE redevelopment plan. For more information, please visit www.aBetterWay.nyc

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