A slew of elected officials from across the borough came together today to lobby Gov. Andrew Cuomo to approve a process that would save taxpayers about $100 million and shave the time it takes for the repair of a crucial piece of I-78 also known as the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE)
The 1.5 mile section, $1.9 billion project concerns reconstruction of the BQE between the Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street interchange that includes multiple bridge structures. The project center is the crumbling 0.4-mile-long “triple cantilever,” which was built between 1944-1948 and carries the BQE on two cantilevers: three (3) lanes Eastbound above three (3) lanes Westbound with the Brooklyn Promenade on top.
The officials and civic leaders want Cuomo to approve a “design-build” process, which allows design engineers to work in tandem under one contact with construction contractors. This reduces engineer/construction discrepancies and thus saves time and money at no extra cost to the state or city.
Without design-build, officials feel the project will stretch beyond its 2026 projected completion date, and trucks will have to be redirected into Brooklyn neighborhoods — leading to noise, congestion, and safety concerns, along with disruption for anyone who uses I-278 from Staten Island to Queens.
“The BQE is a critical part of our city’s circulatory system, connecting Staten Islanders, Brooklynites, Queensites, and Manhattanites for 70 years. It’s understandable that after decades of heavy use, the BQE needs repairs — but we have to make sure that while we’re repairing this artery, we aren’t damaging our neighborhoods in the process,” said State Sen. Brian Kavanagh (D-Northern Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan).
“Forcing trucks off the BQE and onto neighborhood streets isn’t a solution — it would be a massive failure of government. Design-build can help us avoid this crisis, while saving more than $100 million. That’s why so many Brooklynites are out here today, and it’s why 19 state legislators from both parties are committed to getting this done in the budget,” he added.
“Not only would design-build save taxpayers over $113 million and decrease construction time by a crucial two years, but without it, massive trucks would be compelled to travel through Downtown Brooklyn – the City’s third largest commercial district – because the BQE would be unable to support their weight,” said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon (D-Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardes, Cobble Hill).
“These mandatory diversions would paralyze traffic throughout the corridor, damaging the region’s economy. With design-build, reconstruction can take place before trucks would need to be banned from the BQE. Governor Cuomo recognizes the benefits of design-build for the state’s transportation projects; there should be no question that this critical Interstate highway needs the same authority. The bottom line is that New Yorkers need design-build authority and we need it now. I strongly urge Governor Cuomo to include authorization for design-build in this year’s budget,” she added.
“At a time when the city is facing at least $1.5 billion worth of threats, every dollar counts. Design Build has the power to save New Yorkers hundreds of millions with absolutely no cost to the State. And it’s not just money. Using Design Build, the city can shave years off critical construction projects. It’s time we’re given the same advantages as everybody else,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Other citywide electeds signing onto the lobbying effort include City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Scott Stringer and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
Brooklyn electeds signing on the lobbying efforts in Borough President Eric Adams; State Senators Velmanette Montgomery, Jesse Hamilton and Diane Savino; Assemblymembers Robert Carroll, Steven Cymbrowitz, Joseph Lentol, and Nicole Malliotakis; and City Council Members Stephen Levin, Mark Treyger, Justin Brannan and Rafael Espinal.
Emails for a response from Cuomo’s office was not returned at post time.
For further intimation on the project visit https://bqe-i278.com.