Crews have begun ripping down two aging pedestrian ramps near the Clearview Expressway in Bayside, and officials say that there there are no plans in place to replace them.
The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) permanently closed the two ramps that run under the Long Island Rail Road trestles on the east and west sides of the Clearview Expressway service road on Jan. 13. Workers were on site today to begin demolishing the ramps, which were deemed “underutilized and in poor condition,” according to the state agency.
First constructed in the 1960s, the ramps were built at the same time as the Clearview Expressway and served as the connection between the two sides of the neighborhood after it was split by the new roadway.
Shortly after the January announcement, local residents, elected officials and civic leaders sent a letter addressed to NYSDOT and Governor Andrew Cuomo. Signed by state Senator Tony Avella, Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, Community Board 11 Chairperson Christine Haider, Auburndale Improvement Association First Vice President Henry Euler and Bayside Historical Society President Paul DiBenedetto, the group points to the ramps’ history as a connective tissue for the neighborhood and claims that they are not underutilized, as the agency said, but are used “on a daily basis.”
“While we understand that NYSDOT had to close the pedestrian bridge due to its deteriorating condition, the decision to not replace the bridge should not have been made without the elected officials’ or community’s input and they should have come to the community board for a hearing to get the community’s input,” the letter reads.
In April, the group received a response from NYSDOT Regional Director Sonia A. Pichardo, who said neither rehabilitation nor new ramps would be possible.
“We also assessed ramp usage and determined that it is very light, even on school days,” Pichardo said. “Infrequent usage does not justify investing in the design and construction of new replacement ramps.”
Demolition work is scheduled to be completed by the end of the summer, a representative for NYSDOT said. There will be partial closures of the service road ramp lane on a daily basis for each bridge at separate times.