A better future for the BQE: A park instead of giant parking lot

Op-Ed, by Scott Stringer

 

In 1955, when Robert Moses bulldozed East Tremont in the Bronx to build a one-mile section of the Cross-Bronx Expressway, it all but destroyed a thriving community. This brazen act of civic violence demonstrated how highways can divide and dehumanize neighborhoods — and has served as a warning to our city ever since.

Today, that warning hangs over us as the city considers plans to revitalize another Moses mega-project: the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE). The BQE physically divides entire neighborhoods, leaving behind a noisy, polluting highway that elevates cars and trucks over pedestrians, literally and figuratively. As the BQE crumbles in disrepair, we have a rare opportunity to reimagine this roadway and our entire city in the process.

It’s time to embrace a new vision of a greener, more pedestrian-friendly city. That’s why I’m proposing a plan to convert a two-mile stretch of the BQE into a linear park — in part by decking over the so-called Cobble Hill trench, essentially a concrete moat that cleaves the neighborhood — and create space at street level for parks, ball fields and other amenities New Yorkers want and need in their communities.