Speaker Johnson Raises Concerns Over BQE Tunnel Prospoal

Rich Lamb
February 25, 2020 - 2:52 pm
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson

Mike Smeltz/WCBS 880

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said Tuesday he has some concerns about a proposed plan to construct a 3-mile tunnel to replace a crumbling portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.  

New York City is considering a number of options to fix the deteriorating BQE triple-cantilever and the most expensive plan would include constructing a 3-mile tunnel to replace the elevated highway entirely.

The price tag could be as much as $11 billion, according to an engineering report commissioned by the City Council, and Speaker Johnson has his reservations about committing to such an expensive proposal.

“Tunnel projects in New York City, such as the Second Avenue subway expansion and the 7 line extension, East Side Access, have all been famously overtime and way over budget,” he said at a Transportation Committee oversight hearing.

Engineering consultant Trent Lefko said that the speaker’s concerns are justified, but the tunnel might be the best option in the longterm.

“Tunneling technology with each year evolves and changes and is much more sophisticated today than even a few years ago,” he explained.

He added the BQE tunnel would be a straight shot and would be made quicker by not having to construct station stops, as they must do with subway tunneling projects.

Data suggests that if nothing is done to reconstruct the highway, which was built in the 1950s by city planner Robert Moses, the city will have to issue new weight restrictions and reroute some trucks.

The council is also looking at a plan for a capped roadway under Brooklyn Bridge Park, which would allow the park to expand.