Monday, April 09, 2012

One Major New York Metro Area Bottleneck To Be Replaced; Another Awaiting Federal Approval

Utter the words Kosciuszko bridge to a New Yorker, and besides the multiple inflections and pronunciations, you'll get a string of epithets. The bridge spans Newtown Creek straddling the Brooklyn and Queens border, but it also links the Brooklyn Queens Expressway with the Long Island Expressway (LIE).

The bridge is functionally obsolete and a danger to the public. It is built without modern sight lines, lacks breakdown lanes, and the merge lanes for traffic coming from the LIE is nonexistent. Vehicle crashes on the bridge are frequent, and cause significant backups on major arterial highways.

In other words, it's a prime candidate to be replaced.

Talks have been underway for years to replace the bridge, and within the past couple of years, the talk has given way to tangible progress on a design competition and this year Gov. Cuomo and the New York State legislature have adopted a transportation budget with $460 million going to the bridge replacement.
Construction on the project is scheduled to begin by next April 1, and the new structure is expected to be ready by 2017. It is one of hundreds of structurally deficient bridges around the state.

New York Works is a so-called infrastructure bank that draws from pooled government and private funding designed to speed up spending on big infrastructure projects.
The state Department of Transportation is in charge of the project, but its website hasn't been updated to reflect the state funding, or which of the four design alternatives have been chosen. I'm rather partial to the cable stayed version, though the through-arch design strikes a balance between reflecting the original truss design and a modern design aesthetic.

Regardless of the design chosen, it will incorporate new technologies, improved safety and sight-lines, and better integration of traffic flow. The old span will remain in use until the new span is completed.

Meanwhile, the Port Authority is awaiting word from the federal government on approval to lift the roadway on the Bayonne Bridge to permit Super Panamax shipping to clear the span. Failing to lift the bridge would mean the New York/New Jersey port would be at a major competitive disadvantage and force shipping to go to other East Coast ports to offload and would affect thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of business.

No comments: