This past year the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYC EDC) hired New York landscape architects Starr Whitehouse to come up with a three concepts to improve the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which currently carves a trench through a community. They recently unveiled their solutions, which help green the neighborhood, provide improved pedestrian and bicycle access and reconnect the divided neighborhoods. Community members were also involved in the design process and let the designers know they would also like to reduce noise from the road, mitigate pollution, and create a connection between the separated Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill and Columbia Street Waterfront neighborhoods. Read on for a look at each proposal!
Starr Whitehouse presented three final concepts in a public meeting to 35 neighborhood residents as well as representatives of city agencies and state and local elected officials. The three concepts propose various degrees of linkages across the trench, the planting of trees, noise reduction schemes, and additional park space. Each concept is progressively more involved (and more expensive), but provides more open space, noise reduction and pollution mitigation.
The first concept, called Maximum Green, proposes to reconfigure the existing bridges to provide planter space and stormwater retention in swales for irrigation use. The trench would be surrounded with a plexiglass or artistic wall to cut down on noise from the highway. The second concept, called Connections, proposes the same as the first concept, but adds a series of 5 new prefabricated bicycle and pedestrian bridges at cross-streets that were severed by the BQE.
Finally, the third and most comprehensive design, called Green Canopy, includes all the traffic calming, planting and pedestrian bridges of the first two and adds a giant plant-covered canopy over the entire trench to cut down on noise and reduce pollution. The steel angle-and-beam structure canopy was designed with the help of Kiss+Cathcart Architects. Additionally, solar panels would cover the canopy to generate renewable energy and space would be created for new shops or restaurants at bridge crossings.
Costs for the proposals vary from $10.7 million up to $82.7 million depending on the concept chosen and additional features. Funding for the project has not been allocated nor have any decisions been made.