The Real Deal New York

Yep, the BQX is already behind schedule

City no longer planning to start public review process at end of year
December 22, 2017 11:00AM

Rendering of Brooklyn-Queens streetcar line (credit: Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector)

Commuters hoping to take a ride on the Brooklyn-Queens Connector could be in for a long wait.

The ambitious project, largely backed by real estate players, is already running behind schedule, as the Economic Development Corporation had originally planned to start the public-review process for the streetcar by the end of the year but will now likely not start it until the first quarter of 2018, according to Crain’s. The agency will keep studying the feasibility, costs and revenue of the project in the meantime.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the streetcar plan in February 2016, but officials have since realized that repairing and relocating the infrastructure below city streets could make the project too expensive to complete.

The proposed trolley line would connect Red Hook and Astoria along the East River waterfront. The de Blasio administration has said the streetcar’s positive impact on property values will produce between $2.4 billion and $3 billion in additional tax revenue over 40 years to pay for the system. The building cost is pegged at $2.5 billion, and the city also estimates it will cost $31.5 million each year to operate and maintain. But a City Hall memo in the spring cast doubts that the project would pay for itself.

Complicating matters is the possibility that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s nemesis Gov. Andrew Cuomo could kill the streetcar project entirely.

Delaying the BQX while doing a more thorough study could lead to at least $35 million of savings if the city decides not to move forward with the plan. But if the project does proceed, the delays could lead to additional costs in the tens of millions of dollars.

The project’s current projected completion date is 2024, but the shifting timeline suggests it will be delayed by a minimum of six months. [Crain’s]Eddie Small