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Photo courtesy of BridgesNYC
The Grand St. bridge over the Newtown Creek connecting Maspeth to Brooklyn.

After more than a century of carrying cars over the Newtown Creek — with plenty of traffic woes and emergency repairs along the way — the Grand Street Bridge on the Maspeth/Brooklyn border may finally be on its way to a complete overhaul.

In June, the Department of Transportation (DOT) released a request for proposals (RFP) for the total demolition, redesign and reconstruction of the Grand Street bridge, and the submission period closed on July 6. According to the RFP, the DOT seeks to replace the current structure with a new bridge that has a new movable span structure and new approaches.

“The existing bridge does not meet current structural, seismic and geometric design standard requirements,” the document states. “After over 113 years, the bridge has reached the end of [its] service life.”

First opened in 1903, the current bridge stretches 227 feet long, but is barely wide enough to hold two lanes of traffic. The 19 feet, 7 inch width actually forces cars to wait at the end of the bridge if there is a bus or large truck driving over it.

While the bridge was extremely busy during its early years — opening to allow shipping more than 5,000 times in 1918 alone — the RFP shows that an opening of the bridge has not been recorded since 2012.

Over the course of its life, the bridge has deteriorated and has several features that fail to meet the city’s current standards. The mechanical and electrical control systems are obsolete, the fender system has degenerated and many structural members aren’t adequate to carry the bridge’s current load, the RFP shows.

Whomever is awarded the contract will have to provide a minimum service life of 75 years for the new bridge, improve the overall traffic conditions, improve the operational reliability of the new movable bridge and protect the electrical and mechanical systems from damage from extreme storms or flooding. Damage sustained at the current structure from Superstorm Sandy in 2012 is still being repaired today.

The total scope of work will be funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, according to the RFP, and the contract is expected to begin at the end of June 2019 and last until 2026.

The reconstruction is sure to be a welcomed event for the local community, as numerous repairs have caused traffic nightmares in recent years and Community Board 5 has been advocating for its replacement for even longer.

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