In an effort to reduce overall truck traffic on the corridor route between New York City and Interstate 278, and to increase the lifespan of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway cantilever, officials in New York City have released a new infrastructure-boosting plan.
The four-part plan was unveiled by Bill de Blasio, the Mayor of New York City, and Henry Gutman, the Commissioner for the New York City Department of Transportation. Because the expressway route, nicknamed the BQE, also includes a triple cantilever carrying three levels of city traffic, the officials have stated that these four parts will mainly consist of developing a community-focused plan for the corridor itself, preserving the structure of the cantilever, boosting overall enforcement and monitoring efforts, and implementing both short- and long-term maintenance improvements.
Through these efforts, the New York City Police Department will increase its enforcement and monitoring throughout the corridor, deploying smaller units for a few days at a time that will be working to steadily increase traffic management efforts in this area.
Additionally, weigh-in-motion technology will be installed by New York City to be able to fine overweight trucks automatically, as part of the plan’s comprehensive monitoring and traffic management methods outlined in the announcement.
“A critical piece of prolonging the life of the roadway is taking the enforcement of overweight trucks seriously,” explained Jo Anne Simon of Brooklyn, a New York State Assembly member.
Right now, the largest two focuses for state officials are boosting truck regulation enforcement efforts and reducing the number of highly-congested corridor lanes currently present– a wholly unnecessary and potentially detrimental course of action, as explained by Kendra Hems, President of the Trucking Association of New York.
“At a time when we’re trying to focus on addressing emissions and [the] reduction of greenhouse gas, it just doesn’t make sense that we would increase congestion instead of reduce it,” Hems said. “To drop that [corridor segment] down to two lanes is just going to make that situation much worse and put a lot of pressure on the trucking industry in terms of hours-of-service constraints.”
Specifically, according to the plan, a portion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway will see lane markings being shifted in order to decrease the number of lanes from three lanes in each direction to two in each direction. This alignment change will occur in the segment of the expressway located between Atlantic Avenue and the Brooklyn Bridge, and will provide a shoulder as well as two wider lanes as opposed to the currently-in-place three narrow lanes. According to the plan, this shift will work to help reduce the overall weight present at any given time along this segment of the BQE, as well as reduce the number breakdowns and collisions, which often cause major delays.
The Trucking Association of New York will often back many sensible methods of transportation when necessary, but trucks do indeed need to be able to make their final deliveries in an efficient and timely manner, of course, and trucking traffic heavily relies on the Interstate-278 corridor when leaving the Port of New York and New Jersey, Hems noted. It has also been made clear throughout the pandemic era that the trucking industry is vital for the wellbeing of our economy and for the wellbeing of the nation as a whole. Giving fewer trucks access to that section of the expressway at any given time will hinder a trucker’s ability to reach his or her destination on time, resulting in late deliveries or hours-of-service regulation violations, she added.
“I think what’s frustrating here is this continued rhetoric about eliminating trucks from New York City and shifting freight to other modes,” Hems explained. “They’re tying that into this whole plan, which I think is irresponsible, because trucks aren’t going away.”
Additionally, the plan has outlined intentions to analyze the structure’s joints and drainage capabilities as a method of stopping water infiltration within the structure in order to better preserve it.
A variety of rail- and water-related solutions has been proposed by Representative Nydia Velazquez of New York for the trucking industry to be able to alleviate some of the current infrastructural and environmental impacts in place. Other city officials have noted their goals to work with members of the trucking industry, as well as with other businesspeople and community members, throughout the coming months in an effort to develop the most efficient long-term plan for the corridor and its foreseeable future.