Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday trumpeted his proposed multibillion-dollar streetcar linking Brooklyn and Queens, nearly two weeks after he first floated the idea in his State of the City speech. NY1's Jose Martinez filed the following report.
It can take 20 minutes for some residents of Red Hook, Brooklyn to reach the subway. They must walk under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and along several long blocks to reach the F line.
"It makes it harder for the people, you know?" said one resident.
That would change under Mayor Bill de Blasio's back-to-the-future proposal to build a streetcar line linking Brooklyn and Queens.
"The center of gravity is shifting more and more to the outer boroughs, and particularly to our two most populous boroughs. And so we've got to answer that with a new kind of transportation," the mayor said.
De Blasio visited Red Hook Tuesday to tout the proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector and announce some high-profile supporters of his idea. They include four former MTA leaders - Richard Ravitch, Jay Walder, Lee Sander and the man de Blasio defeated to become mayor, Republican Joe Lhota.
"Traveling between these growing waterfront neighborhoods is next to impossible," Lhota said in a statement, "and this vision and investment is exactly what we need to keep Brooklyn and Queens growing."
The line would run between Astoria and Sunset Park, past more than 45 bus and subway lines, and - notably - 13 public housing complexes where more than 40,000 people live.
Giving them, as the mayor says, "much more access to opportunity," and entree to the so-called "new economy" growing in places like Industry City in Sunset Park.
"An economy that's not just Wall Street and some of the traditional industries, but much more about new manufacturing options, about fashion, about all the different pieces that we see now blosooming," de Blasio said.
But critics have begun questioning the plan when the subways need so much money, too.
"I think there's some big concerns over whether or not the ridership would justify a $2.5 billion construction of a new streetcar line," said Ben Kabak of secondavenuesagas.com.
De Blasio ackowledges that his plan does face several hurdles if the new BQX Connector is to be up and running by 2019. Among them is whether the price of the ride on the new streetcar will be able to be linked to the MTA's bus and subway system.