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Advocates unveil what BQX light rail could look like

The reveal aims to drive support for the BQX streetcar that would run 14 miles from Astoria to Sunset Park on the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront.

Advocates hoping the proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector, or BQX, becomes a reality along the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront unveiled the first glimpse at what it might look like on Monday.

The nonprofit Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector revealed a life-size prototype of the streetcar at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is expected to add 10,000 new jobs over the next three years, to urge newly re-elected Mayor Bill de Blasio to make the light rail project a priority in his second term.

The Friends of the BQX said the project would connect 400,000 residents and 300,000 workers in subway deserts along the 14-mile stretch of the waterfront from Sunset Park to Astoria.

“Today we’re providing New Yorkers with their first real taste of what the BQX would look and feel like and calling on the city to bring light rail service to areas long underserved by reliable mass transit,” Executive Director Ya-Ting Liu said in a statement. “Today we can start to imagine what’s possible, and now it’s time for the city to make this a reality.”

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Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said that the area is “stifled by the severe lack of transit” that connect the neighborhoods to the workforce, which could expand should the city be selected as the location for Amazon’s second North American headquarters, commonly known as HQ2.

“With the city's recent Amazon HQ2 bids focusing on the Brooklyn Tech Triangle and Long Island City, the BQX can be a vital connector for workers heading to those potential tech hubs,” said Nick Sifuentes, executive director of Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “A potential massive influx of new high-paying jobs will require rethinking transit in these areas, and the BQX can be part of that solution.”

The large-scale transit project, which de Blasio announced in February 2016, would cost $2.5 billion and be developed and run independently of the beleaguered MTA, though it would offer a familiar ride, according to the prototype.

The 46-foot-long, 8.7-feet-wide BQX model revealed Monday consisted of two articulated cars, including one for the driver, that are similar to Select Bus Service buses to allow for additional straphangers. The streetcar offers 23 seats, leaning bars and handrails as well as street-level boarding for riders with mobility issues.

The $100,000 prototype was created by Alstom, a French firm that has factories in New York state and has developed light-rail options for cities like Toronto.

Since its proposal last year, the BQX has faced questions about its funding, which is said to be connected to property taxes, and the acquisition of waterfront land.

The BQX is currently undergoing a feasibility study to answer these questions as well as establish its routes, but an extensive approval process is still ahead. Construction is slated to begin in 2014, with the BQX officially opening for business in 2024.  

 
 
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