Want to fix the traffic problem? Tear down a freeway.

The 1.5-mile stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Brooklyn Heights has seen better days. On the outside, the paint is chipping, the concrete is crumbling and rust is ubiquitous. 

The BQE, which is part of Interstate 278, is not the only highway in New York that has inspired anger and outrage over the years for its disruptive effects on local neighborhoods. The Sheridan, Bruckner and Cross Bronx expressways have been blamed for high asthma levels in the South Bronx. 

How did things get this way? Robert Moses – the legendary master builder who constructed much of New York’s core infrastructure during a mid-20th century reign over the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and other obscure but influential posts – was famous for his love of highways. 

Transportation planners and elected officials are also now getting ready to drive a stake into the heart of Moses’ highway legacy through a complete rethinking of a key stretch of the BQE. Its fate rests with a panel appointed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio that is expected to release its recommendations later this year. “It’s an extraordinary inflection point right now because the Moses-era (highway) projects are now reaching or are at the end of their functional lives just at the same time that we all know that mobility patterns (and) the technology of how we get around ... is changing so rapidly,” said Regional Plan Association President and CEO Tom Wright, a member of the BQE panel. “Whatever we do with it will set a precedent.”

Read more in City & State NY