By Mark Hallum
The project to ease traffic through the Kew Gardens Interchange was completed last week.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo contends the $159 million rebuild of the Van Wyck Expressway will reduce congestion by widening the corridor between 82nd and Hillside avenues as well as Grand Central Parkway and Queens Boulevard, reconstructing the exit ramps to Queens Boulevard and Hillside Avenues and the entrance ramp at Main Street. The project also built a series of four bridges.
The effort to improve Van Wyck Expressway was the second phase of the larger $400 million project known as the Kew Gardens Interchange Transformation.
“This project is a key part in this administration’s unprecedented commitment to transforming our infrastructure to meet the needs of current and future generations of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “The reconstruction of the Van Wyck will improve its safety and reliability, allowing commuters and commercial vehicles to get where they need to go quicker and without delay.”
A bridge was also constructed to carry Queens Boulevard over the Van Wyck Expressway and was built to accommodate pedestrian traffic.
“Investments in our city’s infrastructure lead to more opportunities that help New York flourish, and the renovations completed to this major corridor will be felt by millions,” state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) said. “Not only did the Van Wyck Expressway receive much needed repairs – including the addition of an extra lane to help ease traffic congestion near the major interchange of the Grand Central Parkway, but the project created jobs and the residents who live near the Briarwood subway station located next to the Van Wyck will now have access to a tunnel making it safer for them to walk in and around the station.”
In what a release from the governor’s office said was a challenging operation, a highway wall was built just feet away from the E/F subway line.
“The Kew Gardens interchange has been a bottleneck and source of frustration for decades,” City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) said. “The completion of this much needed road work will ensure a smoother, safer traffic flow through this area where the Grand Central Parkway, Van Wyck Expressway, Jackie Robinson Parkway and Union Turnpike all come together. This improvement will eliminate one item from my constituents’ list of complaints for 2017.”
A new pedestrian tunnel was also built at the Briarwood subway station with an elevator for ADA accessibility and three landscaped pedestrian plazas along Queens Boulevard.
“The completion of the Van Wyck reconstruction project represents not just an easing of congestion for thousands of my constituents, but our ability as a state to get big things done,” Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Hillcrest) said. “The Briarwood community is extremely grateful to Gov. Cuomo for tearing down red tape and bureaucracy to get big things done, and for doing them right here in Queens.”
The design allows traffic to merge more smoothly between the Long Island Expressway and Grand Central Parkway.
The first phase of the Kew Gardens Interchange Transformation project completed upgrades on other portions of the Van Wyck Expressway earlier this year at $104 million.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall