The NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) has indicated that the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) has deteriorated to the point that if repairs are not completed by 2026, they will be forced to ban trucks from the 1.5 mile BQE stretch from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street. This led to much debate and study over what the future of the BQE should look like, all while juggling the demands of a major freight network. The future will be left up to the next Mayor but in the here and now DOT announced a four part plan that will repair the cantilever, giving it an additional 20 year shelf life.
Key elements of the plan:
Preserving the Structure
DOT has identified new ways to provide at least two more decades of life on the BQE from Sands Street to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn by:
Stopping water infiltration
Preservation methods will stop water infiltration to slow down corrosion. These methods will mitigate the intrusion of water into the structure by addressing the joints, improving drainage, and reintroducing waterproofing. This effort will be combined with rigorous, ongoing maintenance.
Shifting lane markings
- Starting on August 30 DOT will shift lane markings on the BQE along a half-mile segment (approximately from Atlantic Ave to the Brooklyn Bridge) from three lanes in each direction to two. DOT will replace current pavement markings of three sub-standard width lanes with two wider lanes and a shoulder, which will also allow for improved entry lanes at Atlantic Avenue.
Monitoring traffic and enforcement
- DOT will launch a comprehensive traffic management and monitoring plan, as well as a neighborhood protection plan to minimize disruption to motorists and nearby residents.
- NYC will install “weigh-in-motion” technology to automatically fine overweight trucks, The NYPD has already increased weight enforcement in recent months; summonses have increased up to five-fold since February.
- Once per month, NYPD will surge enforcement even further, with extra units increasing efforts over several days at a time.
Something that was not discussed in the press release but should be considered is reform of the overweight permit program. DOT used to issue overweight permits but has since stopped that practice. At the time the practice was stopped, trucks that currently had these permits could keep them. This has created a system of haves vs. have-nots. Trucks that obtain permits usually must be equipped with additional axles to spread the weight of the load, thus mitigating the impact on the pavement. Certainly, DOT would set the permit requirements and costs at levels they deem appropriate.
Immediate and Ongoing Maintenance
- DOT will complete its ongoing concrete and rebar repairs on the Hicks Street retaining wall this year. Work on two deck spans showing faster signs of deterioration will begin next year.
- NYC has installed sensors along the BQE to continuously monitor the structure’s health. Preliminary results will be available later this summer; full results should be available by next spring. These sensors will provide a real time picture of how the structure is behaving under traffic.
Also, as DOT works to implement the newly released Smart Truck Management Plan many of these initiatives will ease the flow of freight and truck trips whish should put less strain on a single roadway like the BQE.