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New design proposed for triple cantilever segment of BQE in Brooklyn Heights

The Department of Transportation has proposed a new design for the Triple Cantilever portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway under the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. This section of the BQE, which stretches along the Brooklyn waterfront between Sands Street and Atlantic Avenue, was originally constructed in the 1940s. Engineers have warned that the deteriorating structure is in serious need of reconstruction, and that the Triple Cantilever will collapse if it is not rebuilt. The redesign has been in the works for many years, dating back to 2006, and this new redesign is the city’s fifth proposal over the last few years. In the DOT’s current timeline, construction could begin in mid-2029. The project would cost approximately $5 billion.

The Triple Cantilever includes three levels beneath the Brooklyn Heights Promenade: three lanes of the Queens-bound BQE, three lanes of the Staten Island-bound BQE, with Furman Street below. Currently, the Staten Island-bound lanes jut out further than the Queens-bound lanes above. However, in the city’s proposed redesign, all cantilever levels would be stacked directly one on top of another.

The BQE must also be updated meet modern highway regulations, with lanes that are about 20% wider than they are currently. The city’s proposed structure would be approximately the same size as the current cantilever, but would only allow for only two lanes of BQE traffic in each direction, not three. It is still unknown whether the DOT will opt for two or three lanes of traffic. The recent decision to halt congestion pricing is one consideration, as well as another proposed project to redevelop the Brooklyn waterfront further south, from Atlantic Avenue into Red Hook.

Here’s what else we know about the proposed redesign:

  • Construction would require tearing down the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and rebuilding it when the project is complete.
  • A temporary bypass highway would be necessary during reconstruction. The DOT has not yet proposed a location for this.
  • This redesign would likely close the Queens-bound on-ramp to the BQE at Atlantic Avenue, which has historically been a dangerous intersection.
  • If the DOT were to move ahead with a three-lane highway in both directions, the space between traffic and the residential building at 360 Furman Street would be diminished considerably.

Updated: June 24, 2024. 

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