Weather: Overcast, with a high in the low 40s.
Alternate-side parking: In effect until Feb. 12 (Lincoln’s Birthday).
Now, another plan aims to shrink a part of a traffic-choked roadway, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, which was built in the 1940s. That section, a 1.5-mile stretch between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street in Brooklyn, would be downsized by a third.
I spoke with my colleague Winnie Hu, who covers transportation and infrastructure, about how the potential changes could affect commuters.
Winnie, tell me about what’s happening with the B.Q.E.
The B.Q.E. was never built for all this traffic. It is crumbling under the weight of 153,000 cars and trucks a day, and the expected cost of repairing the 1.5-mile section of the expressway will be more than $1.7 billion. That’s going to be one of the most expensive infrastructure projects the city’s Transportation Department has ever taken on.
The mayor appointed a panel to come up with a rescue plan, which was released yesterday. One of the key recommendations is to go to four traffic lanes, from six, on the stretch. The panel is hoping that if the city reduces the number of cars and trucks, it will be able to extend the remaining life of this highway and make it safer.
The panel wants drivers who take the B.Q.E. to use less congested routes, or to get off the road completely by switching to subways, buses and ferries. It wants the city to look at other ways of transporting freight besides on trucks, such as using barges.
New York will start to charge cars driving into the heart of Manhattan in 2021. Coupled with the B.Q.E. plan, it seems as if the city is taking a hard line against cars.
Congestion pricing starts next year, but that is just one strategy for trying to reduce traffic. There is a growing consensus that more needs to be done.
In general, New York’s car culture has discouraged people from using other forms of transportation. For instance, increased traffic has caused public buses to slow to a crawl, leading to declining ridership. More drivers also make the streets less safe for cyclists and pedestrians.
Cars are also a big polluter, and the emissions have contributed to climate change.
What are some of the potential downsides of the B.Q.E. plan? What are critics saying?
Some drivers say that they take the B.Q.E. because they have no other options, and that taking away highway lanes would only mean more traffic jams.
And many New Yorkers outside Manhattan live in transit deserts, where there are few subway stations and bus service is sparse. They say that, in some cases, the B.Q.E. is their only viable option to get from Point A to Point B.
Coming up this weekend
“The Blind Boys of Alabama: Live in New Orleans” screens at the Queens Library’s Langston Hughes branch. 3 p.m. [Free]
Attend a post-screening Q. and A. with Kitty Green, the writer and director of “The Assistant,” at the Angelika Film Center in Manhattan. 7:10 p.m. [$17.50]
The BAMkids Film Festival includes live performances, 360-degree films and games at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. 11 a.m. [Free]
“A Night of Philosophy and Ideas,” a 12-hour event with debates, screenings and performances, at the Brooklyn Public Library’s central branch. 7 p.m. [Free]
American Artist in conversation with Rashida Richardson, director of policy research at the AI Now Institute, at the Queens Museum. 3 p.m. [Free]
Watch a screening of Oscar-nominated animated short films at Syndicated Bar Theater Kitchen in Brooklyn. 3:30 p.m. [$12]
— Melissa Guerrero
Events are subject to change, so double-check before heading out. For more events, see the going-out guides from The Times’s culture pages.
And finally: Staten Island Chuck
With Groundhog Day on Sunday, the Staten Island Zoo is waiting on whether Staten Island Chuck, its resident groundhog, sees his shadow and predicts six more weeks of winter.
(Six more weeks of winter? It has barely snowed.)
But not everyone is enthusiastic about the zoo’s Groundhog Day ceremony, according to articles in The Daily News and The Staten Island Advance. At a recent news conference, Mayor de Blasio told reporters that he would not attend the event this year — or any other year.
“I tried it, it didn’t end well,” he said. “I won’t be back.”
The mayor’s comments came nearly six years after his first appearance at the ceremony. There, he infamously dropped the zoo’s previous groundhog, Charlotte, who died a week later from “acute internal injuries,” according to The Advance. The zoo said in a statement at the time that it “appeared unlikely” that Charlotte’s death was related to the events on Groundhog Day.
Still, The Advance quoted Mr. de Blasio as saying, “I’ve been advised by wildlife experts to stay within a five-mile radius away from any groundhogs.”
It’s Friday — spring is, we hope, about seven weeks away.
Metropolitan Diary: On the bus
I frequently ride the bus in New York City, and I have overheard people say unexpected things.
“I taped my ‘60 Minutes’ interview last week,” I once heard a woman tell a companion.
“My probation officer said I could go to the concert in New Jersey,” I heard a young man say to someone he was with.
“I had a tour of the East Wing and then I went to the luncheon in the West Wing,” I heard another woman say.
“My parents live on the same block as me,” I heard a young woman say to the person next to her.
A man they didn’t know interjected.
“I’d like to correct your grammar,” he said. “You should have said, ‘My parents live on the same block as I.’”
— Sheldon Burke
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