Mayor Bill de Blasio is throwing his support behind plans for a San Francisco-style streetcar line directly connecting Brooklyn and Queens, which would touch parts of the boroughs that have undergone rapid development in recent years.
At an expected cost of $2.5 billion, the 16-mile streetcar route would follow the East River in Brooklyn and Queens. De Blasio will unveil the plan in his State of the City speech on Thursday.
The aboveground line — think San Francisco’s trolleys — will snake along the East River, and would increase transportation to areas that have seen rapid growth, such as the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Long Island City, the New York Times reported. It would connect from Sunset Park to Astoria.
While the neighborhood review process will likely be arduous, the mayor already has support from some major developers, such as Two Trees Management’s Ted Walentas. Walentas and de Blasio’s relationship had experienced ups and downs, but the developer has championed the plan and paid for a study on its feasibility and costs. Walentas’ residential conversion of the Domino Sugar refinery along the Williamsburg waterfront is close to completion.
The streetcar, which would hit top speeds of 12 miles an hour, should cut down on travel times. For example, a trip from Greenpoint to Dumbo would take 27 minutes.
The idea of a streetcar connecting the two boroughs has been bandied about before. The Brooklyn and Queens waterfronts are expected to see significantly more residential and office development in the coming years. Nonprofit Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector recently commissioned a study that expected an estimated 15.8 million passengers would use the streetcar line annually by 2035.
The project is not expected to need state approval, meaning de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s contentious relationship will not factor into the equation. [NYT] — Dusica Sue Malesevic