THE BQE: A TOXIC FIX?

February 09, 2019 at 5:15 am

Could the city’s plan to rehabilitate the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway actually lead to a major health hazard for residents of Brooklyn Heights?  We have the disturbing details on a recent report. To read Mary Frost’s article, click here.

Aired on January 8, 2019.

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>> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO
"METROFOCUS."
A 1.5 MILE STRETCH OF THE
BROOKLYN QUEENS EXPRESSWAY WHICH
INCLUDES THE AREA BENEATH THE
BROOKLYN PROMINAD NEEDS
RENOVATIONS.
THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
PLANS TO OVERHAUL THIS SECTION
AND COULD BRING EXTREMELY
DANGEROUS LEVELS OF TOXIC
POLLUTION TO BROOKLYN HEIGHTS.
WHAT IS THE LEVEL OF THARM WOULD
BE INFLICTED ON THE RESIDENTS OF
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS AS THE
RENOVATIONS CONTINUE AS PLANNED
AND IS THERE IN WAY TO FIX THE
BQE WITHOUT THE RESULTING HEALTH
HAZARDS?
JOINING US NO YOU TO HELP ANSWER
THE QUESTIONS IS MARY FROST FOR
THE BROOKLYN DAILY EEG WHICH
WILL HAS BEEN COVERING THIS
STORY.
MARY, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.
>> THANK YOU.
>> I SHOULD SAY, YOU'VE NOT ONLY
BEEN COVERING THIS STORY, YOU
BROKE THIS STORY.
>> WE DID BREAK THIS ASPECT OF
THE STORY.
IT CAME OUT OF THE BLUE.
IT WAS POINTED OUT TO US BY LORI
GARRETT, A VERY ESTEEMED MEMBER
OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL JOURNALISM
AREA.
SHE'S AN AWARD WINNER.
13 YEARS HEAD OF THE COUNCIL ON
FOREIGN RELATIONS GLOBAL HEALTH
COMMITTEE.
SHE BROUGHT IT TO OUR ATTENTION.
SHE GETS FULL CREDIT ON THAT.
>> THE BQE RENOVATIONS, WHY ARE
THEY NEEDED AND HOW EXTENSIVE
WILL THEY BE?
>> THEY'RE NEEDED BECAUSE THE
BQE IS VERY OLD H IT WAS BUILT
DURING ROBERT MOSES TIME, LATE
40s.
THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
TOOK REPORTERS INSIDE THE ACTUAL
STRUCTURE.
WE SAW SUNLIGHT COMING THROUGH.
IF IT IS NOT REPAIRED BY 2026,
ALL THE TRUCKS AND ALL -- WILL
HAVE TO BE TAKEN AND ROUTED
THROUGH LOCAL STREETS AND IF
IT'S NOT REPAIRED BY 2036, THE
WHOLE THING JUST HAS TO COME
DOWN.
>> WOW SO NOW TALK ABOUT THE
HEALTH HAZARD.
WHAT WOULD CAUSE SUCH A
DEVASTATING HEALTH HAZARD TO THE
PEOPLE OF BROOKLYN HEIGHTS?
PEOPLE FOLLOWING THIS MAY KNOW
THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
HAD TWO PLANS THEY WERE LOOKING
AT.
ONE PLAN, THE ONE THEY SEEM TO
BE GOING WITH, WILL HAVE SIX
LANES OF THE BQE RUNNING ON TOP
OF THE BROOKLYN HEIGHTS PROMINAD
WHICH IS A WORLD FAMOUS SCENIC
POMINAD, THE HEART OF BROOKLYN
HEIGHTS.
AND IT WOULD BRING TO GROUND
LEVEL SIX LANES OF VERY AND
DANGEROUS TRAFFIC POLLUTION
WHICH HAS BEEN UP TO THIS POINT
CONSTRAINED BY THE PROMINAD
ITSELF.
IT'S AN UNBELIEVABLE PLAN
REALLY.
IT WILL BE ESSENTIALLY LIKE
PUTTING A COAL FIRED PLANT IN
THE MIDDLE OF A VERY SMALL
NEIGHBORHOOD WITH DEVASTATING
HEALTH CONCERNS.
>> BUT THERE'S A PARTICULAR
CULPRIT INVOLVED, PM 2.5.
EXPLAIN WHAT THAT IS.
>> PM 2.5 IS A PARTICLE THAT IS
SO SMALL THAT IT CANNOT BE SEEN.
IF YOU'RE STANDING ON THE
PROMINAD BREATHING IN THE FRESH
AIR AND REALLY VERY TOXIC
PARTICLES WILL BE GOING INTO
YOUR BODY.
IT'S SO SMALL THAT IT'S LIKE
LITTLE TOXIC GOLD FISH GOING
THROUGH A NET.
IT GOES THROUGH THE LUNGS.
IT GOES RIGHT INTO THE
BLOODSTREAM, CAUSING
INFLAMMATION AND HAS BEEN
KNOWN -- IT'S TIED TO HEART
DISEASE, OF COURSE RESPIRATORY
PROBLEMS, A STUDY DONE BY LUNAR
MEDICAL CENTER WHICH IS NOW NYU
FOUND ANYONE LIVING ALONG THE
BQE THERE IS A MUCH HIGHER RATE
OF HOSPITALIZATIONS FOR ASTHMA.
BUT NOW BRAND NEW STUDY SHOWS
THAT EVEN LOW LEVELS OF PM 2.5
ARE LINKED TO HEALTH CONCERNS,
ESPECIALLY NOW, NEW THINGS,
DIABETES ODDLY ENOUGH.
>> IT'S ALREADY SPREADING OUT.
YOU HAVE A MAP.
IN YOUR ORIGINAL ARTICLE, YOU
HAVE A MAP OF PM 2.5, HOW IT IS
SPREAD OUT THROUGH NEW YORK.
AND YOU SEE THAT IT'S -- THAT
LEVELS OF PM 2.5 ARE SPREAD OUT
ALL OVER MANHATTAN.
>> YES.
>> AND CERTAINLY ALL AROUND THE
BQE ALREADY.
>> YEAH.
>> SO WHAT WOULD MAKE THE PEOPLE
OF BROOKLYN HEIGHTS MORE
SUSCEPTIBLE TO THIS THAN NEW
YORKERS ALREADY ARE THAT ARE
CLOSE TO THE BQE?
>> NEW YORKERS ARE IN BAD SHAPE.
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS IS PARTICULARLY
SUSCEPTIBLE BECAUSE IT'S A
RECTANGULAR SMALL NEIGHBORHOOD
SURROUNDED ON TWO SIDES BY THE
BQE AND THERE IS ALREADY A VERY
HIGH LEVEL OF HEALTH EFFECTS
COMING FROM THIS.
BUT IT IS -- HAS BEEN CONTAINED
TO A CERTAIN AMOUNT BY THE
OVERHANG OF THE PROMINAD.
AND IN EFFECT, THE WINDS KIND OF
SHIFTED AROUND AND AWAY FROM THE
NEIGHBORHOOD.
THE NEIGHBORHOOD ALREADY IS
SUFFERING HEALTH EFFECTS.
PUTTING THIS ACTUALLY -- THE
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION HAS
A GREAT VIDEO SHOWING WHAT THEY
PLANNED IS THIS HIGHWAY INCHES
AWAY FROM WINDOWS, AIR
CONDITIONER VENTS AND DUCTS.
>> QUICKLY, IS THERE A VIABLE
ALTERNATIVE TO THE DOT'S CURRENT
PLANS THAT WOULDN'T CAUSE THIS
HEALTH HAZARD?
>> THERE IS ONE PROMISING ONE
THAT IS PUT FORWARD BY THE
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS ASSOCIATION.
THERE ARE TWO FWRUPZ.
TH
GROUPS.
INSTEAD OF RUNNING THE HIGHWAY
ALONG THE PROMINAD, IT WOULD PUT
IT DOWN ON GROUND LEVEL BROOKLYN
HEIGHTS IS UP HIGH.
SO WE'RE TALKING ABOUT ON THE
EDGE OF THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK
AND FUHRMAN STREET.
IT WOULD RUN IT ALONG THE
EASTERN EDGE OF BROOKLYN EDGE
PARK.
>> SO WHAT IS THE CHANCE THIS
WILL BE ADOPTED?
>> THE DEPARTMENT OF
TRANSPORTATION AND THE
COMMISSIONERS SAY THEY'RE
LOOKING AT THE PLAN.
THEY HAVE NO TIME LINE.
THEY MADE NO PROMISES.
THEY SAY IT IS UNDER
CONSIDERATION.
>> WHEN WILL THE RENOVATIONS
BEGIN?
>> WELL, THERE'S A LOT TO BE
DONE FIRST.
SOME OF THE NUMBERS HAVE BEEN
THROWN UP ARE 2020.
THIS WHOLE PLAN HAS NEVER BEEN
REVIEWED ONCE.
SO IT HAS TO GO THROUGH.
>> SO A POSSIBILITY THAT
ALTERNATIVES WILL BE --
>> ALTERNATIVES COULD BE
CONSIDERED, YEAH.
>> ALL RIGHT.
WELL, LET'S SEE WHAT HAPPENS,
MARY.
WE'LL HAVE YOU BACK WHEN THOSE
PLANS ARE IN SIGHT.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING
US.
>> THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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