Friday, June 02, 2006

Red Hook's Transportation Problem and How to Fix It: Trolleys

With Red Hook being called the next big thing so often that it's becoming tiresome, and the new Fairway continuing to beckon shopping-starved Brooklynites, the issue of how one gets to Red Hook without an automobile is bubbling to the surface. We noted with interest yesterday that Time Out New York said Red Hook would be the next Williamsburg were it not for the access issue. (This may be a good thing given what is happening in Williamsburg. Us, with Ikea coming, part of Red Hook looks set to become the next New Jersey.)

Some Carroll Gardens residents who want to get to Red Hook to do grocery shopping rather than to be hip are suggesting a shuttle service that would run to Red Hook. New York Water Taxi, which has its headquarters on the water in the neighborhood, has opened its Red Hook stop behind the Fairway--it's a fun way to get there, but not exactly ideal for grocery shopping, not to mention getting to New York Water Taxi in the first place. The only public transportation option is the B61 bus route (AKA the Hipster Bus from Hell--it runs from Red Hook, through Carroll Gardens and downtown Brooklyn before heading to Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, through Greenpoint and, finally, to Long Island City. How's that for a Tour Du Brooklyn and Queens? Get a PDF of that intense and zigzagging route and the schedule). On the other hand, you can always take the B61 and blog about the trip, so there's a silver lining to the cloud. Which reminds us that the B61 also lends its name to a great Red Hook blog called B61 Productions.

Not to go planning and urban policy wonkish on you, but anyone who knows Red Hook knows the rusting carcasses of several trolley cars that have sat behind the building now occupied by Fairway. They were part of a plan by the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association to run a trolley line through Red Hook that would connect to downtown Brooklyn. By 1999, some tracks were laid and renovated trolleys even ran for a few hundred feet on the tracks behind the Fairway. The effort died when the city Department of Transportation withdrew its support, citing financial problems.

Enter Arthur Melnick, an associate of the failed effort, who formed the nonprofit Brooklyn City Streetcar Company in 2002. Melnick has been quietly lobbying for light rail lines in several Brooklyn neighborhoods. Rep. Nydia Velazquez even got $300,000 to study trolley service in Red Hook. Now, with Fairway open, the Todd Shipyard being leveled for the the Swedish invasion, the cruise ship terminal and other developments, trolleys may get a real look. Especially, since they're being studied as part of Brooklyn Bridge Park too.

For now, you can see the green shells of the 1930s era trolley deteriorating behind the Fairway. Nearly a dozen other historic trolleys were taken away for scrap metal from their storage area Brooklyn Navy Yard last year.

Gowanus Lounge is willing to wager that we'll be blogging and writing about a Red Hook trolley plan in the future.

Bonus: The tres cool Red Hook Waterfront Festival takes place tomorrow, June 3, from Noon-6PM at the end of Van Brundt Street between the Beard Street Pier and the Fairway. (You can get the PDF Flyer here.) The Red Hook-Carroll Gardens-Boerum Hill Artists' Studio Tour is June 3 and June 4 from noon-6PM. You can get a map at the ongoing BWAC art show at the Beard Street Pier or click here for a large JPEG of the map via the BWAC site.


Blogger Newkirkistanian said...

Trolleys would be cute, but more as a novelty / bonus for Fairway. Before throwing money at the trolleys it is better to figure out what you'd want the transport solution to do. Do you just want to shuttle shoppers from Carroll Gardens to Fairway, or do you want to link Red Hook with the rest of the city's public transportation grid? If you want to link RH with the rest of the city, why?

For my money, I'd like to see RH linked up in such a way as to give middle to low income RH'ers access to public transport in such a way as to get access to the job market in Manhattan and downtown Brooklyn. The easiest way to do this is probably to use the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. For example, extend the B77 up Van Brunt and through the Tunnel in to Manhattan where it can link up with the subway system.

Alternatively, extend one of the lower Manhattan buslines through the Tunnel to Red Hook. As for a long-term solution, extend the G line south from Smith-9th St into Red Hook, loop it up to the area of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and extend it into Manhattan. The beauty of this is that it would give people access to Governer's Island via the subway. It would also make the Cruise terminal that much more access. Finally, since the City has control over that area of the port it would be relatively uncomplicated to build a station at Hamilton Ave and Van Brunt. I suspect Ikea and Fairway, not too mention Thor Equitities (who owns the old Sugar Refinery) could be talked into chipping in for a station on Beard. (Of course they'd want tax breaks...)

1:11 PM  
Blogger wild cherry sara said...

don't forget about the b77 from 10th/5thave in the slope to van brunt

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wouter-- the transport problem for red hook residens, inc. those in houses east & west, is GREATLY exaggerated. it's not a thrill i agree but lots of people in lots of 'hoods are similar challenged by 10-15 minute walk to nearest subway.

how about some comment, which most of the new red hook yuppie class (not puttign you there) don't pay attention to (wouldn't be nice for property values) like the fact of garbage x-fer station at court & lorraine? how about all the park MUNCIPAL SOLID WASTE trucks from lorraine to water, court to clinton? walking a little more might be a decent way to buffer the dissipation we all suffer from the evil environmental shit down there (not to mention fucking parking lot cum Hamilton Ave/BQE).

ikea bought their support among a few people in the houses-- wisely, it must be said-- but anyoen doubting their bullshit intentions needs to learn where they first wanted to be & why it didn't happen. hint: it's where lowe's is now.

in any case, re: transportation, fuck it. by far the bulk of low-middle income folk live in the houses and they ARE not in any way too far to get jobs. you ever think of all the mexicans coming in from coney on the f-train each morning? doesn't seem to stop them.

the trolleys WOULD be cool but the city's not interested. more cars, more trucks & no smoking please, goddamnit.


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