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Photo by Robert Pozarycki/QNS
The work zone at the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road on December 25, 2017.

It’s been nearly one year since the original projected completion date of July 2017 for the bridge deck replacement on Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village came and went, and at long last, the first phase of the project is complete.

Labeled as “one of the toughest bridge projects” the area has had in a very long time by Joannene Kidder, executive director of community affairs for the Department of Transportation division of bridges and former Community Board 5 district manager, the bridge has been nothing but controversial. The original contractor got delayed several times before the DOT defaulted its contract and spent several months trying to find a suitable replacement, harming local businesses and creating a traffic nightmare.

One June 26, Kidder and Joe Catapano, resident engineer for the LiRo Group, presented an update to the Board 5 Transportation and Public Transit Committees in which they explained that phase one of the project is complete, and a change in strategy could allow the entire project to be completed “sometime around Thanksgiving,” Catapano said.

By combining the next two phases of the project and working on them simultaneously, the current contractor Beaver Concrete Construction Company Inc. — should be able to shave 35 days off the projected timeline, Catapano explained. Those phases will involve moving the work zones into the middle of Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road, thus affecting the traffic patterns in several ways:

  • No left turn from northbound Fresh Pond Road onto westbound Metropolitan Avenue
  • No left turn from westbound Metropolitan Avenue onto southbound Fresh Pond Road
  • No left turn (for trucks and buses only) from eastbound Metropolitan Avenue onto northbound Fresh Pong Road

Traffic will flow on either side of the work zones, and obstructed sight lines and traffic flow are cited as the reasons for the turn restrictions, Catapano said.

metroDOT1

metroDOT2

Images courtesy of DOT

Images courtesy of DOT

This configuration will be in place for approximately two months, Catapano said, with Labor Day as the projected completion date for these phases. He also noted that there may be two or three nights of overnight work because the contractor wants to avoid traffic while laying new concrete when the time comes.

After the brief presentation, committee member Richie Huber pointed out that the new turn restrictions and detours associated with them will create much more congestion at the intersection of Eliot Avenue and Fresh Pond Road. For that, Catapano said he has requested that traffic enforcement agents be placed at the intersection.

Kidder warned, however, that there is a citywide shortage of 300 to 400 traffic agents.

While the update on the progress was considered a bit of good news, the bad news shortly followed when the conversation shifted to the CVS parking lot at the intersection. Several community residents and the leaders of Board 5 have expressed concerns over a large separation in the concrete of the parking lot related to the bridge deck below it.

Unlike the bridge deck underneath Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road, the bridge deck underneath the CVS parking lot is privately owned and not part of the DOT’s reconstruction project. Kidder explained that during the initial design phase of the DOT’s project, the agency learned that the privately owned deck had been attached to the city-owned deck.

“They were ordered to remove their structure from ours, and haven’t taken any further action,” Kidder said. “There’s a little bit of confusion I have to say on DOT’s part on exactly what the next steps will be … it may at some point require us to issue an emergency declaration to work on the property that we don’t own.”

Kidder further explained that the situation had to be referred to the Department of Buildings to perform an inspection, and if there is found to be “imminent peril” in legal terms, the DOT may have to do emergency repairs to that deck.

“At this point, other than looking really bad, I don’t think there’s really an imminent issue,” Kidder concluded.

 

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