By Paula Katinas
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — The state plans to pump $300 million into infrastructure repairs in New York City, and state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn Heights) says some of that money should be used for the traffic-clogged Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE).
Squadron called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to use a portion of the funding to restore an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) for the BQE to determine what should be done to address the deteriorating highway. The New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) scrapped the EIS last month after officials deemed that money was too tight to continue the study.
But Squadron said funds for an EIS could become available as soon as the governor signs into law a bill recently approved by the state legislature to pay for infrastructure projects around the state.
The legislature voted to approve $1 billion in funding to create the New York Works Infrastructure Fund and designated that $300 million of the $1 billion be used for projects in New York City.
“I’m asking Governor Cuomo to invest some of that money right here in the district — by moving forward with the rehabilitation of the BQE,” said Squadron. He added that he’d also like to see funding for other projects in his Senate district, including an incentive program for Lower Manhattan businesses to become more energy-efficient and money to help the New York City College of Technology (City Tech) build a new academic center. Squadron’s district also includes Lower Manhattan.
“The BQE is years past due for structural work, and as one of the most heavily trafficked roads in the country, it impacts the safety and quality of life of millions, including the dense neighborhoods through which it runs,” Squadron wrote in a letter to Cuomo on Dec. 8.
“To stop the rehabilitation process now would be penny-wise and pound-foolish, especially after years of work and millions of dollars that have already gone into the EIS,” Squadron wrote.
He estimated that it would take $6 million to complete the EIS and said it represents only “a small portion” of the $300 million that is being set aside for New York City projects.
Borough President Marty Markowitz has also spoken out about the need to continue the study of the BQE. Markowitz is also pushing for an EIS of the Gowanus Expressway to be revived.
Markowitz, who called the state DOT’s decision to halt comprehensive studies of the two roadways “an insult” to Brooklyn residents, asked Cuomo to step in.
“It is a show of disrespect to the great borough of over 2.5 million people that I represent. The Gowanus and BQE are among the nation’s most heavily traveled interstates serving the nation’s most populous city. It should be a state and national priority to overhaul and replace these antiquated structures,” Markowitz wrote in a Dec. 6 letter to Cuomo.
Between them, the Gowanus and the BQE accommodate 160,000 vehicles a day, according to officials.
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