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Bill de Blasio wants streetcar line on Brooklyn-Queens waterfront

Mayor Bill de Blasio announces CleaNYC, an

Mayor Bill de Blasio announces CleaNYC, an effort to keep communities clean in all five boroughs at a press conference at Manhattan Sanitation Garage, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. Credit: Bryan R. Smith

Mayor Bill de Blasio, in his third annual State of the City address, will propose Thursday night the creation of a sleek streetcar system to connect fast-developing sections of Brooklyn and Queens along the East River waterfront.

The Brooklyn Queens Connector, or the BQX, would run along a 16-mile corridor from Astoria to Sunset Park and cost an estimated $2.5 billion, according to the mayor’s office.

The BQX would serve as an alternative to the overburdened G train subway service and the congested Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

Along the waterfront, it would link booming industrial Brooklyn neighborhoods such as the Navy Yard, Queens neighborhoods such as Astoria that have undergone rapid residential and commercial growth, 13 public housing developments and more than 15 subway lines, 30 bus routes and 19 ferry landings, the mayor’s office said.

Its projected completion date would be 2024.

The streetcar is one initiative to be unveiled in de Blasio’s speech, themed “One New York, Working for Every Neighborhood,” as a step toward the city secure a future as global center of innovation.

“This is about equity and innovation,” de Blasio said in a statement in advance of the speech. “We are mapping brand-new transit that will knit neighborhoods together and open up real opportunities for our people.”

The streetcar plan mirrors one set forth in a study released last month by the nonprofit Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector group, which estimated such a project would cost $1.7 billion to build.

The BQX streetcars would travel at an average speed of 11.3 miles per hour. It would take 40 minutes to commute from Long Island City in Queens to downtown Brooklyn, according to the mayor’s office.

Riders would pay the equivalent of a subway fare. The system would be paid for by an anticipated increase in property tax revenue from development along the corridor.

    The 7 p.m. prime-time slot for the State of the City speech was chosen in hopes that more people will be able to tune in live. Past State of the City speeches have been given in daytime hours.

    The speech will be held at the Lehman Center for Performing Arts in the Bronx and livestreamed on


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