Amtrak to remove scaffolding – QNS.com

Amtrak to remove scaffolding

Amtrak began removing long-standing scaffolding from a train overpass this week, after two years of contention with City Councilmember Peter F. Vallone, Jr.
The overpass, located at 31st Street in Astoria, had been undergoing renovations to repair a faulty drainage system as well as structural decay.
“From the day I was elected, I’ve been trying to get Amtrak to make improvements on this overpass,” Vallone said on Wednesday, January 20. “There were puddles in the alleyway which iced over during the winter and in 2006, actual pieces of concrete fell, almost hitting pedestrians.”
After Vallone threatened by to hold the railroad operator criminally responsible in the event of a subsequent incident, Amtrak agreed to fix the drainage system and prevent falling debris.
The scaffolding was put up, and construction was promised to be completed in less than a year, according to Vallone.
At the start of 2010, the scaffolding was still standing. “Amtrak miscalculated the extent of the repairs and the length of time they would take,” said Vallone.
However, an Amtrak spokesperson said that the project was initially awarded in February 2008 and actual work commenced in June of that year with final repairs completed this January. The final cost of the repair work on the overpass was $14 million.
“It took over two years, but the good news is that as we speak, they are pulling down the scaffolding, and the drainage system has been fixed,” said Vallone.
However, the battle between Vallone and Amtrak has not seen its final days.
Vallone is now turning his attention to Amtrak’s Hell Gate Bridge, which spans the East River and connects Astoria to Ward’s and Randall’s Islands. The bridge is utilized by Amtrak’s northeast corridor lines.
According to Vallone, the poor state that the bridge is currently in directly results from “a lack of funding and support.”
Vallone is calling for installation of security cameras on the bridge, citing incidents in which people climb onto the bridge and throw rocks down at the people beneath them.
“They claim that they just don’t have the money,” said Vallone, “which begs the question: Who should be responsible for the bridge if they don’t have the money?”
He is also demanding that Amtrak repaint the bridge, which has not seen a brush since 1991. It has since faded into multiple unflattering shades of violet.
“In Sydney, they have a bridge which is a mirror image, which was their centerpiece for the 2000 Olympics,” said Vallone, referencing the Sydney Harbor Bridge, which many believe was inspired by Hell Gate Bridge. “We have one which could be just as beautiful, but its 15 shades of purple,” said Vallone.
An Amtrak spokesperson said that repainting the bridge would cost more than $40 million, and the company has no plans to paint the bridge at this time

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