Background of the BQE

Black and white image of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and Hicks Street in 1949.
Image provided by NYC Municipal Archives


Built between 1937 and 1964, the BQE is Brooklyn’s only interstate highway and plays a major role in moving people and goods locally and regionally. Approximately 130,000 vehicles use the BQE daily – 13,000 of them trucks, making this a vital freight corridor.

Map of Brooklyn highlighting the BQE highway with labels for the names of each section of the roadway.Both the City of New York and the State of New York own various sections of the BQE:

The City owns:

  • 1.5 miles (12 percent) of the BQE in Brooklyn
  • Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street, including the Triple Cantilever, in Brooklyn Heights
  • Bridges and elevated highway through Downtown Brooklyn

The State owns:

  • 10.6 miles (88 percent) of the BQE in Brooklyn
  • Areas in north and south Brooklyn where the highway is below street level (trenches)
  • Areas where the highway is on a structure above street level (viaducts)

The City and State will continue to collaborate as partners throughout the visioning and implementation processes.