Kosciouszko Bridge construction progressing rapidly

By Gabriel Rom

While the new Kosciuszko Bridge is not slated to be completed until 2020, signs of construction progress are already visible.

Over the past few months, a tower crane and two concrete pillars have risen to the east of the existing bridge, cutting a striking image along the Newton Creek for commuters and residents

“It seems to be moving at a clip,” said Jean Tanler, a coordinator for the Maspeth Industrial Business Association. “I didn’t realize how much work has been done until I went down and saw it in person.”

A parallel bridge is being built next to the old Kosciuszko Bridge.

On Nov. 17, Tanler and members of the Kosciuszko Bridge Project Stakeholders Advisory Committee were taken on a tour of the construction site by the state Department of Transportation.

Tanler said that those on the tour, which included representatives from area civic organizations, elected officials and neighborhood residents, were impressed with how fast progress on the bridge project was proceeding.

“Seeing the height of the two columns that have been placed on the Brooklyn side is really amazing,” she said. “The scale and coordination are both quite something.”

The tower crane was erected in June and by August the concrete pillars had passed 100 feet in height and risen above the road deck of the existing bridge. As the towers climb, approach ramps are taking shape on both sides of the creek.

Tanler said construction so far has caused minimal impact on the Queens side of the bridge.

Occasional street closures are expected for the duration of the project.

The project’s $555 million first phase will include both the construction of a new eastbound cable suspension bridge and the removal of the old bridge. A second, westbound bridge, will then be constructed as part of Phase 2. Phase 1 is expected to be completed in late 2017, while Phase 2 is expected to be completed in mid-2020, according to the DOT. Upon completion of Phase 1, the east span will temporarily handle the 160,000-vehicle-per-day traffic for both directions, while the old bridge is demolished over a 10-month period.

The new bridge will be 45 feet lower than the original because the original’s height was causing traffic issues. The new bridge will also improve traffic safety, reduce congestion and improve travel speeds. Enhancements to the roadway will include extra lanes, wider lanes and a reduced incline that will create longer sight lines and increased visibility. The project will also feature a new bikeway and walkway on the bridge, new parks and open spaces, improved access to the waterfront and enhancements to local streets.

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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