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Press Release: 1/12/19

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Saturday, January 12th 2019

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

COMPTROLLER STRINGER AND ELECTED OFFICIALS JOIN A BETTER WAY NYC TO DEMAND TRANSPARENCY AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT FOR THE BQE REHABILITATION PLAN

NYC Comptroller, City and State Officials Rally Alongside Community Groups on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade

BROOKLYN, NY—A Better Way NYC – a grassroots, non-profit organization focused on the environmental, economic and community impact of repairing the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) – joined Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and an array of elected officials in calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Polly Trottenberg for transparency and community engagement around the proposed BQE rehabilitation.

Rallying on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Comptroller Stringer, State Senator Brian Kavanagh, State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon and City Council Member Stephen Levin joined A Better Way NYC, community groups including the Brooklyn Heights Association, and hundreds of New Yorkers to demand that the City revisit the flawed process behind the proposed rehabilitation of the BQE and explore all possible mitigation solutions before proceeding with any plan.

“It is heartening to see so many of our city’s leaders step up and join the resounding call for transparency and community engagement around the proposed BQE rehabilitation,” said Hilary Jager of A Better Way NYC. “While Governor Cuomo is taking an innovative approach to avoid the devastating consequences of closing L train service, Mayor de Blasio is taking a page out of the Robert Moses playbook: proposing to spend nearly $4 billion to bulldoze local neighborhoods, expand highways and further New York’s dependence on pollution-spewing cars. Our communities refuse to stand idly by while the City attempts to ram through a closed-door plan that will increase pollution and traffic. In solidarity with the thousands who stand in opposition to the current proposal, we call on the City to work with us – transparently – to find a better way.”

“When the City plans a massive years-long project, their top priority should be transparency,” said Comptroller Stringer. “No project can succeed without community input and the planning process for the BQE renovation has failed that basic standard. The City must consider a wider range of options to ensure this project does not unnecessarily burden the Brooklyn Heights community.”

As previously noted by Comptroller Stringer in a letter to Mayor de Blasio and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, 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 pricing, including East River bridge tolls, that could further reduce traffic on the BQE; and
  • The long-term environmental impact on the surrounding community from property damage, dust and debris.

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, non-profit 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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