New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and United States Representative Nydia M. Velázquez (D-Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens) today announced the start of a five-month study to determine the feasibility of a streetcar network linking Red Hook with Downtown Brooklyn and surrounding neighborhoods. This initial analysis is the first step in determining if this mode, once a staple of New York City's streets, is a viable option to connect the residents and businesses of the rapidly growing Red Hook neighborhood with Brooklyn's broader transportation system and support economic development. The study will include community meetings and a technical analysis of the area's needs and demographics, as well as a look at the engineering advantages and limitations of any prospective project. The study demonstrates the Bloomberg Administration's commitment to finding new ways to improve accessibility and mobility for New Yorkers. Exploring the use of streetcars, particularly in the Red Hook area, was a component of Mayor Bloomberg's 2009 campaign plan to improve mass transit. The study is funded through a Federal Transit Administration grant secured by Representative Velázquez and has long had the support of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, which represents local businesses throughout the borough and promotes a business-friendly environment.
"Once again, we're looking back to the future with our transportation network," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "Once ubiquitous in New York City's streetscape, streetcars remain part of the transportation mix in cities from Toronto to Melbourne, and we need to consider all options to improve transit access in underserved neighborhoods like Red Hook."
"When completed, a streetcar system in Red Hook has the potential to reconnect this neighborhood with the rest of the city and greatly improve transit options for residents," said Representative Velázquez. "With subway and bus service being drastically reduced in Red Hook, this study will help determine the best way forward to meet Brooklyn's transportation needs."
"There's no time like the present to look at all of our options for transportation and in turn economic development in Brooklyn's growing Red Hook community," said Carl Hum, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. "Transportation has long been one of the keys to long-term community vibrancy. The possibility of making this long-time mode of transportation new again shows the City's and indeed Congresswoman Velázquez's willingness to be open and innovative in bringing options to residents and businesses. We are pleased the Department of Transportation is proceeding with this study and look forward to the results."
Despite the recent arrival of popular new stores, the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and with expanding waterfront access, Red Hook still has few transit options available to residents and visitors. Just one local bus line, the B61, connects the growing neighborhood with downtown Brooklyn, and other than downtown Brooklyn, travelers are forced to make at least one transfer to another bus or subway line to reach their destinations.
Transportation consultant URS, a nationally recognized leader in streetcar planning and development, will lead the study team in producing a report on existing conditions including demographic and economic development data, as well as the existing and near-term transit patterns and needs within the study area. The analysis will take into account factors including potential costs, operations, routing, vehicle technology, construction issues and economic development effects. It will also examine comparable North American streetcar systems to determine what lessons can be learned from the experience of other urban areas. The study will be completed by early next year.
DOT will convene meetings with elected officials, local businesses, community groups and other agencies at regular intervals to gather input and discuss findings over the course of the study. We will also provide periodic progress updates at local community board meetings.
This study is part of DOT's efforts to find long term, sustainable solutions to New York City's transportation needs and improve accessibility and mobility across New York City as detailed in DOT's strategic plan, Sustainable Streets. For more information about DOT's transportation goals please visit www.nyc.gov/dot.