Nov. 2, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
The city has taken another step forward on the proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector, releasing potential routes for the streetcar.
Mayor Bill De Blasio announced plans for the new streetcar system in February, and the Economic Development Corporation released potential routes for the project yesterday.
The report outlined the pros and cons for various routes for the BQX, which would cover a 16-mile corridor from Astoria to Sunset Park in Brooklyn, with about 30 stops that would be placed every half mile or so.
The study examines factors such as traffic flow, travel time, ridership, and connectivity to other transit options.
The route planning shows that the streetcar would likely begin at Hoyt Avenue near the Astoria waterfront, and then travel down one of the streets parallel to the East River.
It suggests Vernon Boulevard, 21st Street, Crescent Street and 31st Street as potential corridors through Astoria, with pros and cons to each option. It could also travel down 27th Avenue to Hallets Point, which the report points out is an “underserved transit desert.”
“Each option has its own positive and negative to it, and I want to make sure that as we move forward we see that this has a lot of potential, but I want to make sure we look at streets holistically to find the best fit,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides, whose district covers the furthest west part of the proposed corridor.
“We need to integrate it in to the streets and look for a comprehensive redesign that is safe for pedestrians, bikes and drivers as well,” he added.
There is already community interest in redesigning 21st Street, according to the report. It is a wide street and would connect to the E, F, and M train line.
Vernon Boulevard is narrow, making it difficult to fit the BQX. It would also have to be designed to work around the existing greenway, and is a bit far from other transportation options, though it would serve Hallets Point residents.
The 31st Street option would be tricky, the report points out, because it would be difficult to operate the streetcar underneath the elevated N and W tracks.
Crescent Street is close to the parallel N and W lines, though the report did not say anything else about that option.
Upon reaching Long Island City, the route could go in several directions.
It could go from 21st Street to Jackson Avenue, which would be difficult but would put it near the 7 and G trains.
It could also head down 11th Street and cross the Pulaski Bridge in to Brooklyn, go down Vernon Boulevard and follow the historic streetcar route, or turn down 51st Avenue and on to 2nd Street, offering park access.
The report explains that 11th Street is wide enough but it is not near the 7 train and it would be hard to install the streetcar on the Pulaski Bridge.
Once completed, the streetcar is expected to service up to 50,000 travelers daily.
The entire BQX project is projected to cost $2.5 billion to construct, and $30 million annually for operations and maintenance. According to the EDC it could generate up to $25 billion in economic impact on the community over the next 30 years.
The EDC and DOT are currently in the second community input phase, and hope to break ground in 2019 and begin operations in 2024.