Eyeing Fall Start For New Kosciuszko
The long-awaited construction of a new Kosciuszko Bridge over the Newtown Creek could begin as early as this fall, according to the state Department of Transportation (DOT).
In a memo sent to Community Board 5 and forwarded to the Times Newsweekly, the DOT stated that it would soon accept bids from private contractors for the construction of a cable-stayed bridge and the demolition of the existing, 73-year-old span which carries the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
Classified as a “design-build” project by Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year, the Kosciuszko Bridge project is part of the NY Works program, which aims to stimulate the statewide economy through job creation. The DOT indicated that a contractor for the over $511 million project-being funded by the state and federal governments- could be selected by the spring, and a shovel could be in the ground as soon as this autumn.
Built as a Works Progress Administration project during the Great Depression, the Kosciuszko Bridge was opened in 1939 and was originally used to link Meeker Avenue in Greenpoint with Van Dam Street in the Blissville section in Long Island City.
When the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway was constructed during the 1950s, the Kosciuszko Bridge was incorporated into the design of the highway. Over the years, it has become a notorious location for heavy traffic and accidents.
Part of the problem, as explained by DOT officials in previous meetings about the reconstruction project, is the obsolete configuration of the roadway. Four lanes of traffic in each direction on the wide approaches must merge into three lanes of traffic both east and west on the steel truss center span.
The Kosciuszko Bridge was never designed to handle the amount of traffic it has come to accomodate on a daily basis, and wear and tear from the consistently heavy volume on the expressway also makes the span costly to maintain, other observers have stated.
Under the first phase of the construction of the new Kosciuszko Bridge, the contractor hired by the DOT will first construct a new cablestayed bridge along the eastbound side of the existing span. The suspension bridge will have a lower grade than the current bridge and a tower no higher than 295 feet, as mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The new bridge will be erected on land previously acquired by the state from nearby industries. Any structures standing on the acquired property must be demolished to make way for the span.
Temporary bridges will also be erected on the Brooklyn and Queens sides in order to shift six lanes of expressway traffic onto the new span.
Once the new Kosciuszko Bridge is completed and opened, the original span will be demolished. A second cable-stayed bridge will be erected in its place in a second phase of the project to follow.
The DOT also noted that the first phase of the Kosciuszko Bridge project also includes the creation of new streetscapes in Greenpoint, including the construction of a new Sergeant Doherty Park at the corner of Cherry Street and Vandervoort Avenue. Parkland is also expected to be created on the Queens side of the bridge.
According to DOT documents, most of the materials to be shipped to and from the site by barge via the Newtown Creek. The agency has not ruled out using the nearby Montauk branch of the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) to transport materials in and out of the area by rail. This option, the DOT stated in a meeting earlier this month, “is also feasible and can be discussed further.”
For more information about the project, visit its website at www.dot.ny.gov/kbridge.