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Future of the BQX Streetcar Uncertain as COVID-19 Puts Hole in City Budget

BQX Rending on 21st Street in Astoria (EDC+DOT)

May 4, 2020 By Allie Griffin

The future of the $2.7 billion streetcar connecting western Queens to northwest Brooklyn remains uncertain, as the city now grapples with a massive budget hole brought on by COVID-19.

The city had just begun the environmental review process for the streetcar project, dubbed the BQX,  in February and March — but the project could now be delayed or event halted altogether, as the city budget is projected to lose $7.4 billion in tax revenue.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said last week that he was unsure whether the new budget could support the project.

Proposed BQX Route (EDC+DOT)

“It’s a very good example of the kind of thing that now has to be thought of very differently simply for the budget ramifications alone,” he said at a City Hall briefing last week.

He declined to give a firm answer as to whether or not the BQX will still happen — and noted that “substantial federal funding” was needed to make the project a reality.

The city needs the federal government to cover half the cost of building the 11-mile streetcar line.

However, the city is already asking the federal government to send coronavirus relief money to cover the massive budget gap.

The NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has yet to disclose what its next steps are with the BQX.

It had planned to begin scoping for the project this month but no public meetings have been scheduled, according to the project website.

The BQX streetcar, which was first announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2016, would connect Astoria, Queens to Red Hook, Brooklyn.

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