By Jeremy Walsh
Work may soon resume on a small bridge over a tributary of Newtown Creek that is prolonging the headaches of Long Island City business owners and community leaders now that a state environmental agency has approved a remediation plan.
The century-old Borden Avenue Bridge has been closed by the city Department of Transportation since January to conduct repairs, cutting off the most direct route from the westbound Long Island Expressway to the shops in Hunters Point and luxury high-rise towers of Queens West. Drivers will still have to use Hunters Point Boulevard to get to Vernon Boulevard and Jackson Avenue until work is completed.
“They have the permits, work is going to start again, but they’re expecting it to go into April,” said Tony Araujo, owner of Sparks Deli, which sits on Borden just east of the bridge. “They have a lot of work to do there.”
The repairs were supposed to have been finished by July, but an old toxic spill has delayed work.
The petroleum embedded in the sediment “poses no significant health risk to workers or the surrounding community,” the DOT said in a release. The state Department of Environmental Conservation approved the DOT’s plan to dredge and collect the sediment Aug. 31 and the DOT signed off on it Sept. 15, a DEC spokeswoman said.
A DOT spokeswoman was unable to provide further information Tuesday afternoon.
The bridge spans Dutch Kills, a narrow waterway lined with cement companies and other industrial buildings that feeds into the notoriously polluted Newtown Creek, a fact Araujo said should not have been lost on the city.
“Can you tell me they weren’t figuring this was going to happen?” he said. “It’s a joke what happened.”
The increased delay also did not sit well with Community Board 2 Chairman Joseph Conley, who said the closure is hurting businesses along Borden from the Waterfront Crabhouse to the Sparks Deli.
“We’re going to be talking to the DOT and talking about the methodology to see if it can be sped up at all,” Conley said.
Araujo, the deli owner, said the work has been a disaster for his business, which he said is down 40 percent this year.
“I let two people go,” he said, noting the deli was also broken into over the summer. “The area’s a ghost town.”
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.