NY Daily News/MSN
New York City officials on Monday pitched an $11 billion tunnel to keep cars off a crumbling stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
A consulting firm hired by the City Council last year floated the tunnel idea as an alternative to the city Department of Transportation’s previous plan to fix the dilapidated road, which would have cost $4 billion to repair and to build a temporary highway above the beloved Brooklyn Heights Promenade during construction.
The tunnel would stretch 3 miles from the Gowanus Expressway where it meets the Prospect
Expressway to the BQE’s south Williamsburg trench near Bedford Ave. It’s modeled after similar projects in other U.S. cities, such as Boston’s 1.5-mile “Big Dig” tunnel that ended up costing the city $22 billion.
The Council’s consultant also recommended another $3.2 billion idea pitched by architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group last year to build a park atop a new capped six-lane highway adjacent to the promenade.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson called the rebuilding of the highway a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” but declined to endorse either pitch.
If the city goes with the tunnel option, it would cost more than the estimated $7.2 billion price tag for the first two phases of the Second Ave. subway, which hopes to extend the Q line to East Harlem over the next decade.
The tunnel, which the consultant said would take seven to 10 years to construct, would cost about 35% more. The MTA expects the first two phases of the Second Ave. subway will draw an additional 290,000 daily riders, while the Council’s consultant said the proposed tunnel would be used by some 153,000 vehicles a day.
The BQE tunnel idea was met with skepticism by other Council members, who questioned the city’s ability to build large-scale projects.
“We haven’t been able to build anything on this scale since the ’60s,” said Councilman Joseph Borelli (R-S.I.). “I am less concerned about the price tag than I am over whether a future mayor will have the intestinal fortitude to see it through.”
The DOT is in the middle of an environmental review process for all of the proposals to fix the BQE that is expected to drag on for at least another year.