De Blasio concedes funding issues may stop trolley project

Mayor de Blasio acknowledged Monday there’s a possibility the city’s plans for self-funding his vision of the BQX trolley may not pan out, after a memo laid out a brutal assessment of the construction and financial challenges facing the flashy project.

“We believe this is a vision that can work and can work on time,” de Blasio insisted to NY1 host Errol Louis. “But if it turns out, Errol, that upon further analysis we think there’s a funding gap, I’m going to be very open about that and that’s going to beg the question, how should we proceed? And we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”

To pay for the $ 2.5 billion project, a 16-mile streetcar that would wind through Red Hook, Sunset Park and Astoria, the city is banking on increased tax revenue from higher real estate values — but the memo said the city won’t know for sure whether that will pan out until a review by KPMG is completed.

De Blasio said he had not read the memo, which he said he believed was a draft. The substance of the February memo from the BQX Project Team to Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen was first reported by the Daily News last week.

Brooklyn-Queens BQX trolley has overwhelming support: poll

“We said from the beginning we have to confirm the theory that, like the number 7 train extension to the West Side of Manhattan, that that increase in property taxes, the recipes we got on property taxes, could cover the cost — because again, this would be funded solely within the city, not via the MTA,” de Blasio said. “That analysis was a point in time, it’s far from the complete analysis. I believe in the end we’re going to find that the original vision does work and we’re going to move forward on the existing timetable.”

But the seven-page memo lays out big concerns about the project, which would run alongside projects being built by seven developers who cut checks totaling $ 245,000 to the Campaign for One New York, a scuttled de Blasio nonprofit. Among them are the water mains, sewer lines and power utilities buried under the route, which would have to be dug up at great expense, with the “possibility to make the project unaffordable and render implementation timelines unfeasible,” according to the memo.

If de Blasio’s remarks about a funding gap begging the question of how to proceed mean he’d look to scrap the project, the memo gives him an outline for how to do so — by moving slowly and finding another mode of transit to fit the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront.

bill de blasio
taxes and spending

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