Land Deal Delays R’wood-MV Span Project
The long-awaited reconstruction of a dilapidated bridge spanning two major roadways on the Ridgewood/Middle Village border has been delayed again.
During last Tuesday’s (Jan. 28) meeting of Community Board 5’s Transportation and Public Transit committees, Board 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri stated the city Department of Transportation (DOT) is looking to acquire from the MTA two railroad sitings below the overpass at the southwest corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road. The sitings link up with the Long Island Rail Road’s Montauk branch extension.
Upon completion of the sale, the DOT will build a new concrete abutment in place of the sitings. This abutment, District Manager Gary Giordano indicated, would enable the city DOT to build a shorter “single span” replacement of the current bridge, resulting in reduced costs and timelines for the project’s completion.
But the acquisition of the rail sitings, Arcuri noted, is subject to the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP)-and it could take many months to complete. The project would move forward only after the transaction’s completion.
“It’s six months to prepare and submit the application, and then it could be as much as six months from the time they submit the application to when that application is decided upon,” Giordano told the Times Newsweekly.
The community board, the Queens borough president and the City Council must review the plan and make recommendations for the application to be approved.
A DOT spokesperson confirmed the information in an email sent to the Times Newsweekly on Tuesday, Feb. 4, stating the agency was “in the process of preparing the ULURP application for the easments of LIRR property that will allow for this important reconstruction” to proceed.
Board 5 has long advocated for the reconstruction of the 100-year-old span, which the state Transportation Department deemed “structurally deficient.”
Giordano pointed out that the state DOT gave the bridge a 3.603 score out of a possible 7 rating. The stateDOTconsidersa5ratingas good condition.
Evidence of the bridge’s dilapidated shape can be found on the northeast corner of Fresh Pond Road and Metropolitan Avenue. A jersey barrier adjacent to a former gas station reportedly covers a large hole in the span.
The defunct gas station, and a long-vacant newsstand directly across the street from it, were acquired more than a decade ago to make way for intersection improvements related to the project.
Last fall, Giordano stated, crews began removing asbestos from the newsstand in advance of the structure’s demolition. However, Arcuri pointed out, the work has been halted after a gas line was found running directly below the building.
Crews are waiting for clearance from utility companies before demolishing the structure, he added.
The community board also remains concerned about traffic through the area once the bridge reconstruction finally starts. Initially, the city DOT indicated it would maintain one lane of traffic in each direction on both Fresh Pond Road and Metropolitan Avenue for the duration of the project with no need for any detours.
It was a point which the board continues to dispute.
“The key is going to be keeping vehicular traffic away from that intersection as much as possible” during the project, Giordano said. “We need to work that out with the DOT and people need to be advised a good month ahead of when the project will start.”
“This project will put significantly more traffic on Forest Avenue and, in all likelihood, on Eliot Avenue,” the district manager warned.
The DOT spokesperson stated the agency will design “a comprehensive traffic mitigation plan to reduce the impact on the surrounding area” before the project starts. It has “already received input from the community on potential detours.”