By Bill Parry
A major construction project on three bridges at the Long Island Expressway and Grand Central Parkway interchange just south of the World’s Fair site at Flushing Meadows Corona Park has been completed nine months earlier than anticipated, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.
The traffic pattern was moved into its final configuration this week, allowing nearly 350,000 vehicles to move through the interchange with fewer delays each day.
“These vital improvements will help ease congestion at this busy interchange for motorists, while offering those traveling to LaGuardia or JFK a smoother commute,” Cuomo said. “By modernizing and strengthening Queens’ transportation infrastructure, we help meet the demands of the 21st century traveler while spurring economic growth for the entire Empire State.”
The reconstructed bridges include the LIE mainline over the Grand Central, as well as the eastbound and westbound LIE over the GCP. The decks and steel structures for all three bridges were replaced and the bridges were widened to create shoulders where none existed. In addition, the westbound entrance lane from the Van Wyck Expressway was extended, providing a longer merge distance to help reduce traffic congestion.
“The LIE/GCP interchange is a critical highway artery connecting the four corners of Queens,” City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) said. “The completion of this $58 million project is exactly the sort of investment our community needs, and I’d like to thank Governor Cuomo and the State DOT for exceeding expectations and coming through nine months ahead of schedule.”
Lighting upgrades were installed on the LIE mainline and service roads between College Point Boulevard and the GCP, as well as beneath the LIE at the GCP. New LED lighting and upgraded cables have increased visibility there and are saving energy.
“Strong and resilient transportation infrastructure is critical to spurring local economies, connecting travelers to their destinations and helping move New York forward,” state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) said.
Additional drainage structures were installed and existing ones were cleaned to facilitate storm water run-off. Upgrades to the Intelligent Transportation System, which helps publicize and manage traffic conditions, were also completed.
“Our roads need an urgent injection of investment to ensure they do not continue to deteriorate,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said. “We need to accelerate and make the modernization of our infrastructure a priority. The reconstruction of these three bridges at the Long Island Expressway/Grand Central Parkway interchange is a good step toward the goal of modernizing our roads to improve safety.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr