Shocks and jolts were damaging buildings

BQE-construction

The construction of the BQE in the early 50s. Photo by Henrik Krogius.

Brooklyn Heights residents who live near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) have long complained that vibrations from the heavily-trafficked roadway were causing structural damage to their historic buildings.

The Brooklyn Heights Association (BHA) launched a campaign more than a year ago calling on the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) to make urgently needed repairs.

On Friday, BHA reported success: DOT will begin a complete milling and paving of the eastbound BQE on Monday, August 4. The section being repaired runs along the East River from Atlantic Avenue to Cadman Plaza West. Repairs to the expressway’s joints will be performed concurrently with the mill and pave job.

BQE lane closures will be in effect Monday through Friday 10 p.m. – 5 a.m. for approximately two weeks. At least one lane will be open to traffic at all times.

The upper BQE roadway hasn’t been completely milled and repaved since 2002, resulting in violent jolts along the deck surfaces. The vibrations combined with the crashing noises caused by big trucks passing over the defects had “reached an intolerable level,” BHA said last year in a letter to DOT Borough Commissioner Joseph Palmieri.

“Residents who live close to the BQE are jolted out of their beds throughout the night and early morning. Dishes clatter. Cracks appear on interior walls,”  BHA President Alexandra Bowie and Executive Director Judy Stanton wrote. “What were once rumbles and tremors are now shocks and jolts. No wonder people fear for the stability of their homes and for their own safety.”

This week, BHA thanked Commissioner Palmieri and Councilmember Steve Levin for their help on getting this work done.

The BQE was designed by Robert Moses, who had originally planned to run it along Hicks Street, as was done in Cobble Hill. The Brooklyn Heights Association fended off this plan, which would have destroyed a swath of the Heights.

What resulted was the cantilevered roadway that today runs above Furman Street, topped by the Promenade, a major neighborhood amenity.

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