Western Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer probably summed up the status of Mayor de Blasio’s waterfront streetcar plan as best as anyone could when he told us on Tuesday, “I personally thought this was dead already.”
In the news pages, we’re reporting that the mayor now admits the Brooklyn Queens Connector, or BQX, cannot be built without federal aid, contrary to what its supporters have been saying for the last two years. That there’s still no sign of the feasibility study on the project, first supposed to be produced by early 2017 at the latest. That the city is stonewalling Freedom of Information Act requests from a group opposing the plan for documents related to it. And that it’s no longer answering our questions about the project [see story in some editions or at qchron.com].
Here in the opinion pages, we can just say the plan is dead. It was a nice idea — a 16-mile trolley route connecting Queens and Brooklyn — and maybe it can happen decades from now, but today it’s a pipe dream.
Mainly, the money for it isn’t there. There won’t be any federal aid for a toy train under de Blasio’s Christmas tree when far more important projects like the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access for the Long Island Rail Road and the hoped-for Gateway Tunnel under the Hudson River are jockeying for funds. And don’t expect a dime from the state.
How much money would be needed is, of course, unknown. The project’s backers have repeatedly told us, for example, that it would cost $2.5 billion regardless of whether a new bridge would have to be built over Newtown Creek. That just shows it’s not a serious plan.
And when the Daily News reported that a deputy mayor said it might not be built if it needs outside funding, the mayor criticized the paper’s reporting rather than address it.
RIP, BQX. You were so sleek and modern, you were ahead of your time. Maybe one day.