BQE’s crumbling cantilever: City stalling weight sensors for heavy trucks, electeds charge

Town’s Division of Transportation (DOT) has stalled on its dedication to implement sensors on the crumbling Brooklyn-Queens Expressway supposed to high quality house owners of obese vehicles, a bunch of Brooklyn elected officers charged on Wednesday.

The six native pols say the DOT seems to be set to blow an anticipated working deadline of this month to put in “weigh-in-motion” (WIM) sensors on the BQE’s city-owned triple cantilever part in Brooklyn Heights, which might detect and mechanically levy a $650 high quality to house owners of illegally obese vehicles making the jaunt on the quickly deteriorating Robert Moses-era freeway.

“After a year of anticipating a January 2023 roll out of WIM, and being told by DOT that the program was on schedule, we were just informed that DOT has not yet completed the sensor installation,” reads the assertion signed by Congressmembers Dan Goldman and Nydia Velázquez, state Senators Andrew Gounardes and Brian Kavanagh, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon, and City Councilmember Lincoln Restler.

“As we embark on what will undoubtedly be a long and complicated process to improve and re-imagine the entire BQE corridor,” they continued, “we want the public to know that we are deeply concerned about this delay, and we are doing everything we can to keep communities safe.”

Legally, vehicles touring alongside the triple cantilever can’t weigh greater than 40 tons, or 80,000 kilos. However an analysis by an “expert panel,” convened underneath former Mayor Invoice de Blasio, discovered about 11.1% of vehicles utilizing the freeway hauled hundreds exceeded that restrict, with some particularly corpulent lorries packing as a lot as 170,000 kilos.

That poses main issues for the crumbling triple cantilever, which the identical skilled panel warned may turn into unsafe to make use of as early as 2026 barring main restore or alternative work, strict automobile weight limits, and even an outright ban on truck visitors.

“Higher live loads cause greater stress on the structure, shorten its life, decrease reliability and reduce the safety factor,” the specialists wrote.

Set up of the sensors was licensed by a state legislation handed in 2021, enabling the creation of a DOT-led pilot program checking vehicles mechanically as a substitute of counting on eagle-eyed cops to identify and cease vehicles carrying hefty hundreds; in prior years, DOT had applied the know-how on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge, which connects Manhattan and the Bronx over the Harlem River.

Transit honchos had promised the know-how’s implementation on the cantilever by this month, the electeds charge — however they now say WIM has not but handed muster with federal “calibration standards,” that means regulators aren’t assured the know-how will work as marketed and dole out tickets solely for legit offenses.

DOT spokesperson Vin Barone mentioned the WIM sensors are already in place on the cantilever, however can’t be turned on to start enforcement till they are often correctly calibrated.

“As the Adams administration develops concepts for a long-term fix for BQE Central, DOT is rigorously monitoring the triple cantilever and making interim repairs as needed to ensure it remains structurally sound,” mentioned Barone. “We have installed weigh-in-motion sensors along BQE Central and are working through remaining internal and external administrative processes to launch what will be a first-in-the-nation enforcement program against overweight trucks.”

Within the meantime, DOT needs to guarantee the general public that the cantilever is at no speedy danger of collapse. However, the electeds say that WIM set up needs to be a direct precedence, given the potential doomsday state of affairs ought to the geriatric construction tumble down.

“NYC DOT needs to expeditiously work to get WIM in place, and immediately accelerate investments to preserve this faltering structure before it is too late,” mentioned the pols. “This includes safety and remedial measures that the City committed to taking, but has since postponed, such as waterproofing roadway joints on the cantilever.”

In his waning days as mayor, de Blasio opted to chop the variety of journey lanes in every route from three to 2, which he posited would relieve stress on the roadway and lengthen its helpful life for as much as 20 years — however punted on longer-term plans to deal with the construction’s sustainability to his successor, Eric Adams.

Final month, Adams rolled out a collection of potential choices for the freeway’s future, which might contain both partial or complete rebuilds of the cantilever’s retaining wall and partially cowl the ugly artery, utilizing that protection to attach greenspaces on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade above the BQE and Brooklyn Bridge Park under. The proposals are presently snaking by the neighborhood engagement course of, however Hizzoner mentioned a ultimate plan needs to be chosen by this spring, simply in time to use for federal infrastructure grant cash.

The tentative plans have been flanked by criticism, although, together with from the identical native elected officers, who took specific umbrage on the potential transfer to revive a 3rd lane in every route on the cantilever, even when solely for high-occupancy automobiles or buses. The electeds have been joined by an eclectic consortium of protected streets advocates, native civic teams, and even industrial titans in calling for bolder plans, as much as and together with tearing the freeway down and reimagining the hall.

This story was up to date at 4:03 pm 1/11/23 with remark from DOT

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