Without tolls rebuild of BQE, Gowanus Exwy NY/I-278 dies
By Peter Samuel
Without any tolling option New York State DOT has been forced to drop a long planned rebuild of an old segment of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE) and a portion of the Gowanus Expressway, both I-278 in Brooklyn. The project covers 5.3 miles, 8.5km of 2x3 lane expressway that goes back to Robert Moses time in the 1940s. Also included was a portion of the Gowanus Expressway.
NYSDOT described the rebuild of the literally crumbing elevated highways as a "critical need" and a "public safety" issue in the early stages of the project.
"Far exceed" state gas tax resources
A statement from NYSDOT said: "In these financially difficult times, NYSDOT is making strategic choices to make the best use of our limited resources, balancing core infrastructure preservation with fiscal reality while maintaining the safety and reliability of the transportation system.
"The alternatives being explored in the environmental study far exceed the financial resources available to us now and for the foreseeable future.
"Working closely with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), NYSDOT has concluded that terminating the environmental study is the most prudent and responsible course of action, allowing us to focus our resources on the highest and most critical needs."
A Federal Register notice says NYSDOT has withdrawn the project from federal review: "The economic downturn has affected all areas of government and Transportation (sic) is not an exception; recent projections show insufficient funds to meet our infrastructure needs. The cost of the alternatives being evaluated do not fall within NYSDOT's funding constraints."
Tunnel required tolls
One of the alternatives being considered would have replaced a looping section of elevated highway with a direct 1.5 mile, 2.2km tunnel under Brooklyn.
Tolls would be needed to make the project financially feasible, but restrictions on tolling interstate highways precluded this.
There was strong local support for the project.
Demise of interstate projects like this should increase pressure on the US Congress to end their bar on tolling of interstates.