A proposed streetcar line along the East River to connect Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods that now have limited mass transit options would “make a huge impact for hundreds of thousands of people,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday morning.
The $2.5 billion project, called the Brooklyn Queens Connector, or the BQX, will be one of several proposals in de Blasio’s third annual State of the City address Thursday night. The initiatives are meant to increase economic equity in New York City while helping to prepare it as a competitor in the global economy, his aides said.
“We’re talking about neighborhoods that are growing in terms of population, we’re talking about neighborhoods that have more and more jobs in them, we’re talking about neighborhoods that have almost 50,000 public housing residents and places that have never had enough access to opportunity,” de Blasio said in a radio interview with Hot 97’s “Ebro in the Morning.”
The 16-mile tram corridor would run from Sunset Park to Astoria with each ride costing as much as a MetroCard fare. Its projected completion date is 2024. It would be paid for using anticipated increases in property tax revenue from development along the route.
De Blasio said the plan would benefit underserved communities, including Red Hook, Brooklyn, which he told Hot 97 has been “so cut off in so many ways.”
Jill Eisenhard, founder of Red Hook Initiative, a philanthropic group that serves young people, said the neighborhood has no high school and no subway access to help residents get to work in other parts of the city.
The BQX, she said, will be a message to residents that “You can finally be connected to the rest of the city.”
De Blasio said Thursday the project would “increase the quality of life in these neighborhoods.”
The Democratic mayor’s prime-time speech, themed One New York: Working for Every Neighborhood, will be at the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts in the Bronx with live-streamed beginning at 7 p.m. on nyc.gov/ourcity.
The address will “recognize that New York — as great as it, as large as it is — is a city of neighborhoods,” de Blasio senior adviser Phil Walzak told Newsday.
Honored guests at the event will include NYPD heroes such as officers Anthony Barton, of Suffolk County, and Michael Pyzikiewicz, of Nassau County, who delivered a baby along the Long Island Expressway last month in Queens.