Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced his support of a $2.5 billion plan to build a 16-mile streetcar line between Astoria, Queens and Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Queens Connector (BQX) would serve the borough’s waterfront communities along the East River, which are booming with new residential and commercial developments. According to the mayor’s office, the electrified line would be one of the largest urban streetcar systems in the nation. Previous estimates say the streetcar line could transport up to 16 million riders annually.

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The mayor’s office cited the city’s burgeoning public housing population as a motivating factor for the plan’s approval. Over 40,000 residents live in 13 public housing developments along the proposed BQX route, so the electric streetcar will fill a gap that is currently underserved by other public transportation options. “This is about equity and innovation,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We are mapping brand new transit that will knit neighborhoods together and open up real opportunities for our people.”

Related: $1.7B Brooklyn Queens Connector streetcar line could create new interborough link

Planning for the elaborate streetcar line is expected to take approximately three years, and construction would take about four more, so it will be some time before local residents can reap the benefits of the new form of old transportation. Still, the mayor’s office sees the BQX line as an investment in the city’s infrastructure. The streetcar line would reportedly run “primarily” in its own dedicated lane, according to the mayor’s office, and travel at an average speed of 11.3 mph.

+ Mayor Bill de Blasio’s State of the City Remarks

Via The Verge

Images via Shutterstock (1, 2) and Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector