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Mayor de Blasio Announces Increased Truck Enforcement, New Repairs on Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

January 31, 2020

NEW YORK —Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced that the City will be increasing truck enforcement and performing urgent, structural repairs on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.  The Mayor signed an Executive Order to create the new NYPD BQE Truck Enforcement Task Force. Starting on Monday, February 3, this new unit will increase enforcement against illegal, overweight trucks that are exacerbating the BQE’s structural issues.

The City will also repair the Hicks Street Wall and sections of the cantilever. Construction on the Hicks Street Wall will start in the spring, and be complete by the end of 2020. DOT will begin the design process on the most deteriorated portions of the cantilever starting this summer, and work will be complete by the end of 2022.

“The BQE is one of the main arteries of our City, which is why we are immediately increasing enforcement against overweight trucks and addressing the highway’s most pressing structural issues,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I applaud the expert panel for putting forward several solutions preserve the BQE, and we will continue to explore the next steps necessary to keep New Yorkers safe and moving.”

“The BQE is a vital stretch of roadway in New York City and I thank the expert panel for their work helping identify solutions to the structural issues it faces,” said Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin. “As we work on immediate repairs to key sections of the roadway, we will be partnering with law enforcement to crack down on illegal overweight trucks through Executive Order 51.”

“I want to thank the BQE expert panel, who did remarkable work over most of the last year,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “We are particularly grateful for their confirmation of the problem of illegal, overweight trucks, which are accelerating the deterioration of the BQE. Under the Mayor’s leadership, we look forward to working with NYPD and our State partners to address this problem, as we also take quick action to repair areas of the roadway that need our attention.”   

“The NYPD is committed to ensuring safe travel for all on our city’s roadways and we will work with our partner stakeholders in this important new transportation initiative,” said NYPD Chief of Transportation William T. Morris.

In 2019, the Mayor convened a panel of experts to evaluate the best options to preserve the structural integrity of the BQE from the Atlantic Avenue interchange to Sands Street in Brooklyn.  The panel outlined a series of recommendations, including increase enforcement against illegal overweight trucks, as well as making urgent repairs to Hicks Street Wall and the most deteriorated portions of the cantilever. The panel also recommended against building a temporary highway through the Brooklyn Heights Promenade or Brooklyn Bridge Park. The administration has embraced the panel’s recommendation against building a temporary highway through the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and Brooklyn Bridge Park. 

“The triple cantilever section of the BQE is in urgent need of repairs and steps must be taken right away to reduce traffic and fix this section of the roadway,” said Carlo Scissura, Chair of BQE expert panel and President and CEO of the New York Building Congress. “I commend Mayor Bill de Blasio for his leadership, not only in forming the expert panel to study the issue, but in taking immediate action to address the most severe structural issues and increase enforcement against illegal, overweight trucks that are overburdening the highway.”

Using data supplied by new state-of-the-art sensors, made by C2SMART to aid DOT in assessing the structure, the BQE Expert Panel noted that many trucks on the roadway are in severe violation of BQE weight restrictions.  Under Federal legal guidelines and posted signage, trucks along the BQE are limited to a maximum of 80,000 pounds — or 40 tons.  However, the sensors have determined that some trucks along the roadway are more than double that weight, as much as 170,000 pounds.  Such excessive weight can do serious damage, with consequences for the roadway’s structural integrity.   Under current state law, NYPD can issue violations to overweight trucks — with penalties as high as $7,000 per violation. 

Increased Truck Enforcement:
Executive Order 51 requires the City to promote and protect the structural integrity of the BQE by through the following actions:

  • Establish the NYPD BQE Truck Enforcement Task Force that will rigorously enforce existing weight restrictions on the BQE, starting Monday February 3.
  • Require DOT and NYPD working with the Deputy Mayor for Operations, to develop and present the Mayor with specific proposals to protect the safety and structural integrity of the BQE.  The agencies will consider proposals to increase penalties for violation of weight restrictions on the BQE as well as explore the institution of automated enforcement of weight restrictions.  The agencies will identify which of these proposals require action outside of City control, including those requiring state law amendments.

Urgent Structural Repairs:
DOT has also identified immediate action it will take in 2020 to address immediate structural issues identified in the BQE Panel report.  DOT will this year:

  • Perform immediate surface road work starting this spring, which will include milling and paving the roadway deck, repairing deck sections to ensure roadway life, restoring defective pavement, and fully replacing the mesh underneath the structure.
  • Perform and complete structural repairs to the retaining wall found along Hicks Street, which should increase the life span of the wall by approximately 10 years.
  • Address the two 50-foot long sections of the lever structure that are showing faster signs of deterioration. DOT plans to design those changes and procure the contractor to do the work this year, with construction completed on those sections by 2022. 

“New data has demonstrated that the BQE is deteriorating faster due to overweight trucks on the expressway. The Mayor’s Executive Order will begin addressing this problem swiftly and help identify automated tools to extend the life of this infrastructure, while it is being repaired. The steps announced today and other measures such as split-tolling on the Verrazano will reduce truck traffic and wear and tear on the BQE. This and short term repairs will provide time to develop longer term solutions, which will require cooperation at all levels of government,” said Representative Nydia M. Velazquez.

“The infrastructural challenges facing the BQE demands we don’t just think outside the box, but break the box altogether. The suite of recommendations put forward by the task force deserve serious consideration, and we look forward to working with the Mayor and Commissioner Trottenberg as we determine the future of this vital artery. Undoubtedly, the structural safety concerns surrounding the remaining lifespan of the triple cantilever make it imperative that we strictly enforce weight restrictions on this roadway immediately. But also must ensure that these new restrictions do not have unintended effects, such as pushing truck traffic into nearby side streets,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

Senator Brian Kavanagh said: "I thank Carlo Scissura and the BQE Expert Panel for its work and everyone in the community for their engagement throughout this process.  I also thank the Mayor and the DOT for responding promptly and committing to doing what's necessary to ensure the safety and structural integrity of the BQE, to minimize negative impacts on our neighborhoods, and to plan for the long term.  I look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders in the community and in government at the federal, state, and city levels.”

“We've known for a long time that the BQE triple cantilever was on life support, but we now know the situation is much worse that we thought," said Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon. "It is a relief to know that the parts of this road that are in the worst shape will be getting much needed repairs, and that the City is taking enforcement of overweight trucks seriously. I commend Commissioner Trottenberg for her work on this enormous undertaking, and the expert panel for sharing their expertise. I am also grateful to be working closely with my colleagues Councilmember Levin, Senator Kavanagh and Congresswoman Velazquez. I will continue to ensure that the affected communities’ voices are heard throughout this process.”

“I welcome Mayor de Blasio’s Executive Order establishing important and much needed safety and enforcement improvements on this critical stretch of the BQE. We need to continue to bring everyone together to plan for the future of the BQE corridor that supports communities,” said Councilmember Stephen Levin.

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