Reimagining BQE Featured Image

Apr 2019

Reimagining the BQE

Policy Options to Reduce Traffic on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway

This report seeks to expand the list of realistic alternatives for restoring the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) as a safe, efficient corridor for moving people and goods.

Key findings and recommendations


Summary of NYC DOT project

BQE triple cantilever

The triple cantilever

A triple canteliver supports the BQE on two lower levels and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade on the top level.


Examples from Other Urban Highways

BQE shutterstock 222283555 By M Shcherbyna

Williamsburg Bridge

photo: M. Shcherbyna
BQE W Side Highway shutterstock 158311106 Ritu Manoj Jethani

West Side Highway

photo: Ritu Manoj Jethani
BQE Embarcadero Freeway 15202819347 Brx0

Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

photo: Brx0
BQE Mc Grath Highway 5875876736 47caa30334 o Todd Van Hoosear

MacGrath Highway, Somerville, MA

photo: Todd Van Hoosear
BQE paris plage CN Traveler

photo: CN Traveler


Traffic Estimates for Five Policy Options

BQE vehicle traffic in the 4:00-8:00 PM evening peak

Auto-mobilesTrucks / BusesTotal (PCE)Hourly trafficVehicles / lane / hour

Source: NYC DOT BQE Origin and Destination Study 2016 Appendix C

BQE 01 Riders alliance D02 RQ Nb XQAA bh G

photo: Alina Shen and Riders Alliance

Trip reductions and diversions resulting from Fix NYC higher-range plan

Current (PCE)Trip reduction (1)Low Diversion (2)High Diversion (3)Low Diversion Lanes RequiredHigh Diversion Lanes Required
Eastbound4,2004,0003,6003,45022 (1.9)
Westbound4,4004,2503,8003,6002 (2.1)2

(1) All BQE trips with starting or ending in Manhattan reduced by 17 percent (2) 60 percent of remaining Manhattan based trips diverted to BBT (3) 80 percent of remaining Manhattan based trips diverted to BBT

BQE 02 shutterstock 5658553 Io Foto

photo: Io Photo

Verrazao Narrows Bridge Vehicles in Morning and Evening Peak

Auto AM PeakAuto PM PeakTrucks AM PeakTrucks PM Peak

Source: NYC DOT BQE Origin and Destination Study 2016 Appendix C

BQE 03 shutterstock 155391893 T Photography

photo: T Photography

BQE 04 shutterstock 1132718309 Edi Chen

photo: Edi Chen

Trip reductions and diversions resulting from HOV implementation

Current (PCE)HOV 3+ Bridges (25%)HOV 3+ Bridges Lanes RequiredHOV 3+ BQE Atlantic to SandsHOV 3+ BQE Lanes Required
Eastbound4,2003,9003 (2.2)3,5002 (2-)
Westbound4,4004,2003 (2.3)3,7002 (2+)
BQE 05 shutterstock 597828167 Mai justrace

photo: Mai Justrace

Summary table

ScenarioAffected TripsAutomobilesTrucksPCELane requirement (demand)
Existing peak period average hour7,4006008,6506
Fix NY (LB diversion)Manhattan Origin/ Destination6,1005507,4004 (4.1)
Fix NY (UB diversion)Manhattan Origin/ Destination5,8005407,1004
Two-way tolls on VNBAll7,2005008,2506
HOV on free bridges (25%)Manhattan Origin/ Destination6,8006008,1006
HOV on BQE (20%)All5,9006007,2004 (4.03)
HOV on BQE (25%)All4 (3.9)
Lane reductionServes demand = to capacity
BQE featured

Next Steps


Additional Content and Support

Dave Zackin
Graphic Designer, RPA

Funded By

A Better Way
Special Thanks
While the content and accuracy of this report is strictly the responsibility of RPA, we wish to thank Hilary Jager, Laura Winner and Sabrina Gleizer of A Better Way, Charles Komanoff, and NYC Department of Transportation staff for providing us with data and other feedback. Tom Wright and Jeff Zupan of RPA also provided input for the report.

Search Our Reports

Search the entire site