Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fix The Ditch

One of the major issues the Landuse committee will be dealing with this fall is, what to do about the portion of the BQE that separates the Columbia Waterfront from Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens (aka The Ditch). As previously reported, Representative Nydia Velasquez has secured $300,000 for a study that will be administered by the EDC. There are many possibilities here: from simply fixing the concrete bed, to hanging planters and adding bridges to covering the whole thing up. We would like to know, what you think. Please leave your comments below. To get the discussion going, here are a few articles on the subject:


  1. If Representative Velasquez is determined to implement a solution, it would be best appropriated via a phasing plan that would maximize the funds appropriated and minimize the local impact over time. Refer to the High Line as a recent example of infrastructure improvement. The existing streetscape could be dramatically improved with new lighting and landscaping on split Hicks and the existing cross street bridges. Connect to the pedestrian with these improvements rather than compromising to the highway below. I could see this leading to additional bridges or small parks (destinations) spanning the ditch to break up the divide; the span between Kane and Degraw comes to mind. Beyond that would seem too expensive or intrusive for this study to tackle, see Dig, Big. If Mr. Bloomberg is serious about housing then he should wait to see how his City Marketplace projects in my part of the District fare before suggesting entire blocks of new residential.

  2. I've always thought that the "Fix the Ditch" idea and the waterfront/ Red Hook light rail idea naturally blended together. If covered, the Hicks St. corridor is a natural place for the light rail to get to Atlantic avenue from Red Hook with the least amount of impact to the neighborhood and our already cramped street infrastructure. Many might point out that we'd simply be trading one noisy and polluting use for another, but this couldn't be farther from the truth.

  3. Covering the ditch entirely and creating a park would be the most pleasant alternative, but it may be more realistic to have partial "green roof" covering and sound barriers. Covering the ditch in its entirety would instead possibly result in exhaust vents or towers in our area.

    It has been argued that covering the ditch would create land that can be sold by the city to finance the project, but then I seriously doubt that this would help finance construction more than marginally.

    Also, how would the interplay between city and state work? I believe that the Expressway is run by the state, after all. Will space created above the BQE belong to the city or the state?

    Finally, here is a link to a 2006 DOT program to deal with the elevated highways. This can perhaps be seen as our problem in reverse:

  4. Building pedestrian/bike bridges closed to cars across the ditch is suggested in one of the articles. These could form a network linking existing sidewalks and street bike paths to the Brooklyn Bridge Park and the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway. Increased foot traffic would support more local businesses. Landscaping along the paths would create a park-like setting.

  5. If they totally cover it, the EDC will not ever make it into a park. Oh, they will talk a good game but remember what the state EDC did with Brooklyn Bridge Park - promised a park and are spending 1/3 of the dollars to put in sewers for luxury towers, 30 stories tall, right on the water. Better to advocate for green bridges over the ditch, that way they will not sell the land to the condo developers of the next decade (and they will). An esplanade is not a park, remember that. And 30 story towers are not for Brownstone Brooklyn either.