City official says BQX streetcar may be scrapped if it ‘can’t pay for itself’: report

Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Queens Connector

Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said in a talk at New York University on Tuesday that the city would decide the fate of the Brooklyn Queens Connector after a study concludes whether the plan would be financially viable.

According to the Daily News, Glen, who visited the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management to give a talk, said the city is awaiting the results of a study to determine if the 16-mile streetcar could pay for itself through the higher property values generated by the project, which would increase revenue from property taxes.

“Assuming that it does not pay for itself … then we have to decide whether or not this is the right use of capital money for a transportation project,” she said.

The mayor unveiled his plan at his State of the City speech in February 2016. The streetcar line would stretch along neighborhoods along the East River waterfront. Traveling at the speed of 12 miles per hour, the proposed streetcar would make trips between Astoria and Sunset Park in Brooklyn.

At a town hall hosted by the Department of Transportation and Economic Development Corporation in May 2016, Astoria residents questioned the cost of the project.

Astoria resident Arin, said he was pro-street car but is concerned about the increase in property taxes.

“Astoria is based upon middle-class homeowners,” he said. “Do our taxes increase? It’s easy to say we’re going to put in new infrastructure. I’m not someone that’s saying that we shouldn’t have infrastructure, but I’m saying there’s a cost associated with it … and we’re leaving out Astoria’s common people, our demographic: homeowners.”

KPMG, a financial firm, is working on an analysis to determine how much additional tax revenue the project, which is set to cost $2.5 billion, can generate to cover its construction, the Daily News reported.

Glen also said the federal government could pitch in to help fun the construction of the project. She added that Sen. Charles Schumer, whose daughter Jessica Schumer is executive director of the Friends of the BQX, is a “big fan” of the project.

“The federal government could come up with additional money to do exactly these kinds of cool urban projects that really enhance our mass transit network — that’s the kind of thing the federal government should be doing,” Glen said.

A spokesperson for Friends of the BQX said the city should move forward with the project because of its potential to create jobs.

“Few proposed projects match the potential of the BQX to create jobs, spur inclusive economic growth and leverage city resources to expand opportunity,” the spokesperson said. “Now is the time for the city to capitalize on a real moment to take our transit destiny into our hands and move the BQX forward by unveiling next steps for the project.”

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