Supporters of the Brooklyn Queens Connector had hoped that Amazon’s plan to build a new headquarters in Long Island City would make the streetcar system vital to the future of western Queens. Now that Amazon has withdrawn from the deal, and have taken away the 25,000 jobs they promised to create, there is still plenty of hope among the backers of the BQX.
“The need for high-quality mass transit along the BQX corridor is glaringly clear before Amazon chose Long Island City and still is today,” Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector Executive Director Jessica Schumer said. “Amazon chose LIC for a reason, and there’s no question that demand to live and work there remains strong. From 44,000 public housing residents to fast-growing job centers like LIC, the Navy Yard and Downtown Brooklyn, there are few proposed projects the BQX’s potential to create jobs, spu equitable economic growth and leverage city resources to expand opportunity.”
The $2.7 billion project would travel 11 miles along the East River waterfront from Astoria to Gowanus, Brooklyn a corridor that will add 58 million square feet of commercial space and more than 45,000 jobs within the next decade without Amazon and the need for quality mass transit to connect those fast-emerging employment hubs, deliver workers to jobs, and continue to fuel the area’s economic growth is urgent. In December, the executive committee of the New York City Economic Development Corporation awarded a $7.25 million contract to civil engineering and design consulting firm VHB to oversee the BQX project’s environmental review, a commitment from the de Blasio administration to move it through the public review process, known as ULURP.
“The BQX will link long-disconnected neighborhoods and shorten commutes for over a half a million New Yorkers who live and work along the Brooklyn and Queens waterfront,” NYCEDC spokeswoman Stephanie Baez said. “It is a 21st century solution to our city’s transit challenges and we’re excited to move the project forward.”
In Queens, the BQX route would cross Newtown Creek and run from 44th Drive along Vernon Boulevard and once past the Queensboro Bridge it would run along 21st Street to a terminus at Astoria Boulevard. Work on the Environmental Impact Statement is expected to begin this spring. If approved, the streetcar system is scheduled to be operating by 2029.
“We’re encouraged that the city is taking clear steps forward with the project and eager for the community engagement process to get underway this spring,” Schumer said.