Over the last several years, the overpass carrying Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road on the Ridgewood/Middle Village border has been reduced to one lane in each direction as work crews labor to rebuild the overpass over a year since it July 2017 projected completion date.
But the end of the major project is finally in sight. Crews will remove the jersey barriers on the bridge spanning the Long Island Rail Road’s Montauk branch on or about Oct. 27, a city Department of Transportation official said at the Community Board 5 Transportation and Public Transit Committees meeting on Tuesday night.
Even so, that does not mean Metropolitan Avenue will go back to business as usual right away. According to the DOT, the bridge will remain in its current configuration with orange barrels guiding drivers while construction crews continue under an updated completion deadline of Thanksgiving.
“The resident engineer on the project who reported that the concrete jersey barriers are going to be removed on Saturday so that they can do the joint work under those barriers,” the DOT official said. “And then it sounds like they’re going to try and have the road re-opened, those barrels removed by the second week of November. So we’re shooting for having this wrapped up before the end of Thanksgiving … the last thing is that there’s still going to be intermittent punch-list items, so there may still be required periods of closure while they knock out whatever items remain.”
The project was originally stalled by a contractor who defaulted on the work and DOT spent some months re-opening the bid to find a new company to finish the job. Joannene Kidder, the executive director of community affairs for DOT, once called it “one of the toughest bridge projects” the area has seen in a very long time.
Mugrose Construction, the first contractor, was scheduled to begin the rebuild in July 2016, but there were bumps in the road concerning the design and completion was pushed back further.
The stalled project had taken its toll on the surrounding businesses on the Ridgewood/Middle Village border, as the nearby Tropical Restaurant saw a steep decline in patronage which used to see customers waiting outside for a table.
Tropical owner Steven Vinas said back in February that the Ecuadorian eatery — which has been there for more than 13 years — was desolate, and the Valentine’s Day dinner rush was a bust.
“I started seeing the business like a cancer, killing you slowly,” Vinas told QNS in February, adding that he feared the business would not survive 90 days.
It did, however, and in June Beaver Concrete Construction Company Inc. was awarded a bid to complete the task of getting the intersection back on track.