It takes more than a simple feasibility study to turn into a viable capital transportation project. There have been no environmental documents or preliminary design and engineering efforts necessary to validate any basic estimates for the estimated $1.7 billion cost of the Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront Streetcar Connector.
Unfortunately, history has shown that estimated costs for construction usually trend upward as projects mature toward the final design. The final cost would not be known until completion.
History shows that construction of most transportation system expansion projects take decades. Beyond a feasibility study, there are environmental reviews, design, engineering, real estate acquisition, permits, procurements, budgeting, and identifying and securing funding to pay for all of the above before construction can start.
One option is for the Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector to ask either the Metropolitan Transportation Authority or Department of Transportation to serve as a project sponsor. They could then attempt to enter the project into United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New Starts program.
The problem is that both the MTA and DOT already have their own respective priority list of projects for this potential funding source. These include East Side Access to Grand Central Terminal ($2.5 billion), Second Avenue Subway Phase 2 ($1.5 billion), Amtrak Gateway Tunnel ($20 billion), 42nd Street Port Authority Bus Terminal ($10 billion), and the Cross Harbor Freight Tunnel ($5 to $10 billion), to name just a few.
There are many projects from the New York region that may be competing against each other. Dozens of other potential New Starts projects are being championed by many other congress members. The requests far exceed any available funding, so there will be few winners and many losers.
The journey for a project of this scope can easily take 10 to 20 years before becoming a reality. Don't be surprised if the Brooklyn-Queens Connector waterfront street car remains a dream.
Larry Penner is a resident of Great Neck and former professional in the transportation field.