Plans to fix "the ditch"

November 17, 2010 2:43:24 PM PST
The noise is often deafening and the air smells of exhaust along a stretch of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway known as "the ditch."

The highway trench designed by Robert Moses split the communities of Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and the Columbia Street Waterfront District. Now, new plans are in place to reconnect the neighborhoods.

"It's a nuisance to cross the ditch. It's quite loud. It creates a lot of soot," Edward Schindler, a waterfront district resident, said.

There are three proposals to fix the ditch. The first calls for planting 400 trees along the roadway making it one of the longest green stretches in Brooklyn at a cost of 18.7 million dollars.

Next is a plan to create 6 Bike lanes and pedestrians crossing, which could cost $38.7 million.

Finally, the grandest idea is to cover the roadway from Atlantic to Hamilton Aves with a steel green canopy, which could generate energy from the sun at a cost of 82.7 million dollars.

Residents of the communities are cautious because they've seen other plans in the past, but no improvements.

"They've been talking and talking some many years. I've been here 37 years and I know they've been talking and talking, but nothing yet," business owner Francesco Buffa said.

Camile Miliea's family has been in the area over 100 years. Her father ran a business for nearly 70. She says improving the trench is a win for everyone.

"It cut the neighborhood in half. Our side - we were always on the wrong side of the tracks and we aren't. We're such a great area," she said.

"I don't expect that there will be one giant lump of money that will fall out of the sky. I expect we will get a million here and few million there. Get a federal grant," Roy Sloane, president of the Cobble Hill Association, said.

City officials have looked at other plans in the past and are studying the pros and cons of the new ideas.

Residents hope that which ever project is finally selected can be completed in five years.

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