Absurd New York #117: Panel Edition

Absurd New York #117: Panel Edition. Screenshot courtesy of politico.com.
Absurd New York #117: Panel Edition. Screenshot courtesy of politico.com.


Stressed beyond stability, the branch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway [BQE] between Sands Street and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn is crumbling. It’s been shedding concrete for years. What’s particularly dangerous is the stretch that runs under the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Known as the “Triple-Cantilever,” it’s a pancake arrangement of roads devised in the mid-1940s. The Promenade rests at the top, with the Queens-bound lane of the BQE below, the Staten Island-bound lane of the BQE underneath that, then Furman Street at the bottom. Each level is made up of concrete and rebar and anchored to the side of a cliff with the others. As the concrete continues to chip off and expose the underlying steel, the elements will eventually corrode the rebar and weaken the entire structure.

Sensing the emergency, Mayor de Blasio assembled a panel of 17 experts to study the problem in April 2019. They met at least 10 times through June but, afterwards, fell silent. A report due that summer was indefinitely delayed. Not even their website was updated with clues. 

Then, suddenly, in early January 2020, a draft report leaked. Someone read the panel’s findings and passed them on to Politico. That’s when Ms. Rubinstein revealed above that de Blasio’s panel actually proposed creating another panel — haha, funny! — but she couldn’t have heard it right, could she? There’s no way the panel would put something like that in writing.

However, when a final report was published on January 30th, it included a familiar suggestion.  

Under the section “Demand Management,” the panel noted that cutting traffic by 15% could extend that BQE’s already shortening lifespan. But there were tactics to consider before enacting such a change, so an “immediate study” would be needed. Moreover, a few “entities” would have to “cooperate” on the study if one were ever launched. They’d be the 


  • Federal Highway Administration,
  • New York State Legislature,
  • New York State Department of Transportation,
  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority,
  • Congestion Pricing Commission,
  • Traffic Mobility Review Board,
  • Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,
  • Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority,
  • New York City Department of Transportation,
  • New York City Economic Development Corporation,
  • New York City Ferry, and
  • New Jersey Department of Transportation.

Wow, that’s certainly a few — almost enough to fill a new panel!

But if de Blasio’s group wasn’t clear enough about what it meant by “immediate study,” it went on to explain:


Given the need for multi-jurisdictional cooperation on both a long-term vision and immediate next steps [for the rehabilitation of the BQE], a joint working group of the three levels of government [the Feds, the State, and the City] should be convened to oversee both.


So looks like Ms. Rubinstein was right all along! The panel really did ask to convene another panel. Who would have thought?



Screenshot courtesy of politico.com. January 9, 2020.



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