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“The BQE is one of the main arteries of our city, which is why we are immediately increasing enforcement against overweight trucks and addressing the highway’s most pressing structural issues,” Mayor de Blasio said.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The City has stepped up overweight-truck enforcement and will be performing urgent structural repairs on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday.
Hizzoner signed Executive Order 51 to create the new NYPD BQE Truck Enforcement Task Force. Starting this week the new unit will increase enforcement against illegal, overweight trucks that are exacerbating the well-travelled thoroughfare’s structural issues.
Additionally, EO 51 requires the NYPD and Department of Transportation, working with the deputy mayor for Operations, to develop and present de Blasio with specific proposals to protect the safety and structural integrity of the BQE. The agencies will consider proposals to increase penalties for violation of weight restrictions on the BQE, as well as explore the institution of automated enforcement of weight restrictions. The agencies also will identify which of the proposals require action outside of City control, including those obliging State law amendments.
While the new enforcement initiative focuses on a particularly vulnerable 1.5-mile section of the BQE, from the Atlantic Avenue interchange to Sands Street in Brooklyn, the targeted segment of the interstate expressway offers 150,000+ daily commuters—many from The World’s Borough—connections to the Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Staten Island, and New Jersey.
Last year, de Blasio convened a panel of experts to evaluate the best options to preserve the structural integrity of this stretch of the expressway. The group outlined a series of recommendations, including increase enforcement against illegal overweight trucks, as well as making urgent repairs to the most deteriorated portions of the section. The panel also recommended against building a temporary highway through the promenade or Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Using data supplied by new state-of-the-art sensors, the BQE Expert Panel noted that many trucks on the roadway are in severe violation of the expressway’s weight restrictions. Under federal legal guidelines and posted signage, trucks along the BQE are limited to a maximum of 80,000 pounds, or 40 tons. However, the sensors have determined that some trucks along the roadway are more than double that weight—as much as 170,000 pounds.
Such excessive weight can do serious damage, with consequences for the roadway’s structural integrity, according to the officials. Under current State law, City cops can issue violations to overweight trucks—with penalties as high as $7,000 per violation.
The DOT this year will perform immediate surface road work starting this spring, which will include milling and paving the roadway deck, repairing deck sections to ensure roadway life, restoring defective pavement, and fully replacing the mesh underneath the structure.
“The BQE is one of the main arteries of our city, which is why we are immediately increasing enforcement against overweight trucks and addressing the highway’s most pressing structural issues,” de Blasio said. “I applaud the expert panel for putting forward several solutions to preserve the BQE, and we will continue to explore the next steps necessary to keep New Yorkers safe and moving.”