The city’s Department of Transportation has unveiled streetcar route options for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Brooklyn Queens Connector, including an idea to turn Brooklyn’s Berry Street into a transitway.
The agency said it would like to use the $2.5 billion streetcar project as an opportunity to rethink surface-level transit. To that end, it pitched closing Berry Street in Williamsburg to vehicular traffic to dedicate the corridor to streetcar, bike and pedestrian use.
“New York City needs to think big — and the BQX is a bold plan to connect the booming waterfront communities of Brooklyn and Queens,” DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said in a statement. “In the 21st century, cities like New York need to build transportation systems that promote urban growth and opportunity.”
Beyond Berry Street, newly unveiled city mappings highlight dozens of roads that could possibly carry segments of the BQX along its 16-mile, waterfront route from Astoria, Queens, to Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Streets were chosen in part based on feedback from a round of community input sessions held along the proposed route, which will feature more than 30 stops, each about a half mile apart.
Critics have wondered if the transit desert, as de Blasio has called the area, needs such a project and whether a streetcar is the most effective and resilient way to move people through flood-prone neighborhoods.
Big questions for the BQX still linger, like how the streetcar will interact with traffic. It’s yet to be seen whether the city will be able to achieve its goal of giving right of way to streetcars, rather than other vehicles, along 70 percent of the route. More details are expected to come after another round of “visioning sessions” in neighborhoods along the route. A preliminary project report is due early next year.
“As we look at a wide range of possible routes through these neighborhoods, we look forward to input from neighbors and stakeholders to identify the best option,” Trottenberg said.