Brooklyn Week: Construction Continues On Gowanus Expressway
While many things in the borough have changed over the past two decades, at least one thing has not: construction on the Gowanus Expressway. NY1's Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
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There was plenty of construction on the Gowanus Expressway in 1993. Back then, drivers couldn't wait for it to finish.
"It's terrible," one driver said back then.
"It's construction behind construction behind construction," said another.
"When are they going to finish?" asked a third.
Fast forward to 2012 and the construction is still not finished.
"I hope they're done with that work soon," said one driver.
"I think after construction it's going to be much better," said a second.
But that's not going to be anytime soon. The New York State Department of Transportation has three construction projects underway and another slated to start next year. The projects have a combined price tag of $700 million.
NY1 attended community meetings over the years as a tunnel alternative was being studied. The DOT even presented a possible start date to build one. But plans were scrapped.
"The Department of Transportation has abandoned the project because it's too costly," said State Sen. Marty Golden.
Senator Golden took part in the tunnel planning, as did the community group UPROSE. Its offices are located up the block from the expressway as the roadway cuts through about a half dozen neighborhoods.
UPROSE members planted trees to help block the emissions polluting the area. They also keep the tunnel project plan on the wall.
"I think we need to have a fresh look at it," said Elizabeth Yeampierre, the executive director of UPROSE. "The way we see it is that if more than $600 million has been spent in keeping this obsolete infrastructure in place, that it would be more cost effective to build a tunnel."
They say the cost savings is over time. The Gowanus wasn't created to handle the 220,000 cars it supports daily.
The Gowanus Expressway opened in 1941 with four lanes. It expanded 20 years later to six lanes.
Part of its expansion now is to make an evening rush HOV lane. But Golden says it's still a band-aid approach. He's introduced a bill to create a public-private partnership to help fund a final fix.
"The only way you do this: tunnel or a highway along first avenue," he said. "Take this sucker down."
The DOT said it's committed to keeping the Gowanus safe and in good repair for now.