January/February 1995, p.5

Gowanus Chicanery: Highway Exempted from Federal Study Requirements

NYMTC, a regional government transportation planning group, voted over the objections of Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden, T.A., the Gowanus Community Coalition, and the Tri-State Transportation Campaign (TSTC), to exempt the Gowanus highway rebuild project from Federal requirements for a cost benefit analysis. At a heated December meeting, the citizens groups called for NYMTC and the State DoT to obey Federal law and stop the backroom politicking that characterizes NY highway projects. 

Lawsuit Pondered 

Frustrated by near criminal neglect, T.A. and the TSTC are pondering a lawsuit to force NYMTC and the Federal Highway Administration to explain how and why they've exempted the Gowanus and the $500 million expansion of the 1-287 Cross Westchester Expressway. 

AAA Included, Citizens Excluded 

The American Automobile Association has been attending special Gowanus planning meetings that community groups like the Gowanus Coalition have been deliberately excluded from. State DoT Spokesperson Sonya Rivers says that AAA represents "road users," making clear that the state priority is motoring over the community. 

Sunset Boulevard and Light Rail: How Much Would It Cost 

T.A. has proposed that a light rail line and surface boulevard be given serious consideration. T.A. asked transportation engineer George Haikalis to make an estimate of what it would cost to build a light rail/boulevard alternative. Shown at right is a rough estimate of the cost of tearing down the Gowanus Expressway and replacing it with a six-lane, at-grade highway and a two-track light rail line.

Phase I
Demolish 3.5 mile existing viaduct  $18 million
average width 100 feet demolition cost @ $10 per square foot
At Grade Roadway
Construct new low level (35 foot clearance) fixed span across the Gowanus Canal, six car lanes, four rail tracks, 400 feet long by 200 feet wide @ $200 per square foot 16 million
Connection at BQE & Hamilton Ave. Widen 2-lane northbound and southbound ramps to provide three lanes in each direction 20 million
Connection at Prospect Expressway. Add new southbound ramp over 3rd Ave. 10 million 
Connection to Expressway at 60th St. Widen northbound and southbound ramps to Third Ave. to two full lanes 15 million 
Rebuild 3.5 miles of six lane at-grade highway, including crosswalks, signals, landscaping, bike path, etc. $50 million per mile 175 million

Total  $236 million
Light Rail Line 
build and equip 10 mile line from Battery to Grasmere in S.I. including 11 intermediate stations @ $20 million per mile 200 million

Total-Phase I  $436 million

Phase II
Subway Line 
Connect 4th Ave. line to median in Hamilton Ave. 0.6 mile  300 million
Connect new line to existing subway under Trinity Place in Manhattan  200 million
Tracks and equipment 3 miles at $20 million per mile  60 million
Station at Columbia Place  20 million

Total-Phase II  $580 million

Total Project Cost  $1,016 million

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