Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Jan. 31 that New York 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, Feb. 3, this new unit will increase enforcement against illegal, overweight trucks that are exacerbating the BQE's structural issues, he said.
The city also will 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 de Blasio. "I applaud the expert panel for putting forward several solutions to 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."
"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 lbs. — 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 lbs. 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 through the following actions:
- Establish the NYPD BQE Truck Enforcement Task Force that will rigorously enforce existing weight restrictions on the BQE, starting Monday Feb. 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 also has 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-ft. 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.