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State undertakes project to renovate BQE-LIE

What kind of effect will the most expensive roadwork project in state history have on rush-hour traffic in a borough already plagued by construction related delays?

None at all, according to the Department of Transportation.

The 3-1/2-year, $228 million project, which calls for the complete reworking of a mile-long section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in the Woodside area, will not change rush-hour traffic flow, according to Alex Dudley, spokesman for the DOT.

Although each lane of the six lanes will close in turn when the main construction begins soon, manipulation of the lanes will insure that three lanes will always flow in the peak direction, with two lanes in the non-peak direction.

But just because rush-hour traffic is likely to be spared that does not mean the construction will not be a headache for Queens residents, particularly since the project is not scheduled to finish until the end of 2003.

By the end of 2003, the section that stretches from Astoria Boulevard to Broadway and borders Astoria, Woodside and Jackson Heights, will practically be a new road, according to Dudley. The section has been virtually untouched since construction in the 1950s.

The contract awarded to Slattery Skanska Inc. calls for a fully repaved road with a new subbase for drainage and redone bridges. The road will also be significantly wider, with an eight to 12-foot shoulder added to each side of the road, which currently has no shoulder.

Begun in May, the construction is still in the first of four stages. The first stage includes four different operations, two of which affect traffic on the BQE.

The Triboro Bridge-BQE connector, which runs from Astoria Boulevard to 31st Avenue, is already under full construction, not to be completed until the end of 2002. In addition, the existing median barrier from Northern Boulevard to Broadway is being removed and replaced with a temporary barrier to allow counterflow traffic over the next three years.

Work on both operations takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays as well as on occasional nights from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. during which one of the three lanes in each direction are closed.

The initial stage also consists of two operations alongside the BQE. The west side of 69th Street between Broadway and 34th Avenue is now closed to allow for both the construction of new retaining walls for the BQE as well as the reconstruction of the street itself. At the end of 2000, work on the west side of 69th Street will be completed and work on the east side of the street will begin.

The southern half of 34th Avenue from 69th Street to 64th Street is also closed through 2000, when construction will begin on the northern half of the road. According to the plans, 34th Avenue will be lowered six feet to allow for the new BQE bridge that stretches above the avenue by the end of 2001.

While the main construction has yet to begin, residents of Jackson Heights and other areas surrounding the BQE already are dealing with the effects of construction.

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