The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded $5.6 million in grants to address renovations to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) and improve the quality of life for nearby neighborhoods, many of which are disadvantaged communities.

The New York City Department of Transportation and the New York State Department of Transportation will use the grant to fund identifying and advancing proposals for reconnecting communities, improving access to employment and services, enhancing pedestrian and cyclist sections, and constructing green spaces. The DOT suggested potential expressway renovations such as full or partial highway capping, pedestrian connections, and improvements to intersections, ramps, and underneath the elevated cantilever section.

City officials and neighborhood organizations will focus on redesigning the BQE’s North and South corridors. These corridors have divided some area neighborhoods for nearly 70 years and damaged the local environment and economy. Areas transected by the BQE report higher asthma and heart disease levels due to pollution from roughly 150,000 vehicles per day.

For years, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway Environmental Justice Coalition, comprised of 17 neighborhood community groups, has been working with Brooklyn officials to undo the damage caused by the expressway running through their neighborhoods. The grant will fund the creation of a comprehensive plan to reimagine the entire BQE and address environmental justice issues.

The coalition envisions transforming the BQE into a space prioritizing the well-being of all impacted communities, and the federal grant provides support to develop further proposals by area residents. BQGreen proposes constructing a 3.5-acre greenspace park atop a sunken section of the BQE that runs through Black, Latino, and Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in South Williamsburg. The proposed park’s open green space would dually serve as a measure of improving pollution and air quality in the surrounding neighborhoods. In 2023, childhood asthma cases at Woodhull Hospital were three times higher for neighborhood children than the city’s general population.

In Sunset Park, levels of the most harmful air pollutant, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), have reached 8.5 micrograms per cubic meter, higher than the borough and citywide combined average. Another proposal from neighborhood organization UPROSE suggests developing Sunset Park Greenway-Blueway on the BQE South, connecting to the existing waterfront greenway.

An additional $117 million grant was awarded to continue the development of QueensWay Park, currently under construction on the vacant corridor of the former LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch. An application for a $800 million grant to rebuild the BQE Central from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street was denied.

Rubenstein & Rynecki is a full-service personal injury law firm that has been serving Brooklyn residents and the surrounding areas for decades. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, call 718-522-1020 or contact us online. We will help you after a BQE accident. Located in Brooklyn, we serve clients throughout New York City, including The Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island.