Mayor Eric Adams’ proposed budget would postpone millions of dollars in funding for repairs to the crumbling Brooklyn-Queens Expressway — a move advocates and a Brooklyn city councilman say will lead to dangerous conditions.
Adams’ current Executive Plan would shift $180.5 million in funding for repairs to the BQE out of the Fiscal 2023 budget, cutting immediate funding from $225.1 million to $44.6 million, a City Council briefing paper obtained by amNewYork shows.
What You Need To Know
- Mayor Eric Adams' proposed budget would shift $180.5 million in funding for repairs to the BQE out of the Fiscal 2023, budget, a City Council briefing paper shows
- The city would still provide a total of $1.5 billion in funding for repairs between the 2022 fiscal year and the 2031 fiscal year, according to the briefing paper, but the proposal has drawn backlash
- Advocates and a Brooklyn city councilman say postponing funding for repairs will lead to dangerous conditions
A report released by an expert panel in January 2020 found that the expressway was “suffering from significant deterioration” and would need “significant repairs and replacements” by 2026.
And while the city would still provide a total of $1.5 billion in funding for repairs between the 2022 fiscal year and the 2031 fiscal year, according to the briefing paper, the proposal has drawn backlash.
During a City Council budget hearing on Thursday, Brooklyn City Councilman Lincoln Restler said Adams’ proposal was “of grave concern,” adding that the city’s Department of Transportation appeared to be approaching the project with a “lack of urgency.”
“And I am very upset about it, and frankly, in my communications with DOT, I've been underwhelmed by the response I've gotten from the agency,” he said, before noting that he was “hearing every day from constituents who are freaked out.”
Former Mayor Bill de Blasio in August unveiled a multi-pronged plan aimed at extending the life of the BQE by 20 years.
The Brooklyn Heights Association released a statement on Friday saying there was “no possible justification to delay any of the emergency repairs DOT promised to undertake last August.”
“The idea that the city isn’t doing everything in its power to prevent a predictable catastrophe is reckless and unconscionable,” the association said in its statement. “We are almost halfway through 2022, and neighbors all along the Cantilever are reporting increased levels of rumblings, vibrations, and just a few weeks ago photos of falling debris from the underside of the structure were sent to DOT.”
“Anyone who questions the disastrous impact of salt and water corrosion on concrete and rebar need only look to the Surfside [collapse] in Florida,” the association added.
Responding to Restler’s remarks at Thursday’s hearing, DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez said there was “no issue related to safety here at DOT… when it comes to, you know, how we move money.”
“None of this decision to move any money puts anything at risk,” he said.
The DOT is “keeping a close eye on the BQE,” Elisabeth Franklin, the agency’s associate commissioner for budget and capital program management, added.
“We have left the funding in the inner years to do the contracts that we know we have to do now,” Franklin said. “And so the funding in the outer years can be moved back in as our monitoring continues, as we find work we need to do earlier.”
City Hall did not immediately respond to request for comment Friday.