The New York State Rebuild and Renew Transportation Bond Act was approved by voters on Nov. 8, 2005, authorizing the state to borrow up to $2.9 billion through the sale of bonds. Four years later, it turns out there’s still some money left to spend.
Work will soon begin at the Kew Gardens Interchange, a confluence of the Van Wyck Expressway, the Grand Central Parkway and the Jackie Robinson Parkway, according to representatives of the New York State Department of Transportation and the engineering firm of Hardesty and Hanover, LLP, at a presentation of multiple infrastructure and operational improvements at the Kew Gardens Interchange to the Queens Borough Board in October.
“There’s a couple of million dollars to be spent,” a state DOT representative said in announcing the groundbreaking would begin on Contract I early next year. The $130 million project, of which $65 million is funded by the 2005 bond act, has been in development for a very long time. “This is no longer just a study, we’re moving forward.”
The proposal, involving a number of bridges that are to be repaired or replaced, will take place at several sites where there are high volumes of traffic. “This is the only dedicated truck route to JFK [Airport],” the DOT representative said.
The first contract will replace the 82nd Avenue pedestrian bridge, replace and lengthen the Hoover Avenue bridge and replace the Queens Boulevard bridge over the Van Wyck Expressway. There will also be a reconstruction of the subway pedestrian tunnel and a rehabilitation of the Queens Boulevard bridge over Main Street.
The Van Wyck will also be widened where it crosses over the southbound side of Main Street and the auxiliary lane beginning at the Hillside Avenue entrance will be extended. The work on Contract I is expected to last from 2010 through 2014. Two more contracts are planned.
The 2005 bond act provided money for the purpose of “improving, enhancing, preserving, and restoring” the quality of the state’s transportation infrastructure. Half of the $2.9 billion ($1.45 billion) was to be used to improve public transportation, most going to two MTA expansion projects: LIRR East Side Access to Grand Central Station and the Second Avenue subway. The other half was for roads and bridges.
During the 2005 election year, it was argued pro and con, that the bond act would contribute to the state’s economy, create jobs and increase opportunity and that it was not fiscally responsible, would increase taxes and stole resources from the future to pay for today’s costs.
The New York City Department of Transportation is also beginning a major rehabilitation project of seven bridges along the Belt Parkway. “This is really going to delay traffic,” said a NYC DOT representative at the Queens Borough Cabinet in October.
Seven bridges, built at the end of the 1930s and into the early 1940s will be rehabilitated, beginning with the Paerdegat Basin Bridge, the Rockaway Parkway Bridge and the Fresh Creek Basin Bridge. The reconstruction, beginning this month and continuing through 2014, will bring the bridges into compliance with federal and state safety standards but will require lane closures as follows:
- All lanes open 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- One lane closed 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- One lane closed 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
- Two lanes closed 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
- All lanes open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- All lanes open 8 a.m. Sunday to 10 a.m. Monday
- One lane closed 11 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday
- One lane closed 11 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday
- Two lanes closed 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Saturday
- Two lanes closed 2 a.m. Sunday to 8 a.m. Sunday
For more information, call the Belt Parkway Community Liaison at 347- 702-6437 ext. 114 or e-mail: SevenBelt BridgesOutfirstname.lastname@example.org.