Eight lanes of traffic will be reduced to six lanes during the three-month demolition and reconstruction of the Cross Bay Boulevard bridge that passes over the Belt Parkway, a city Department of Transportation spokeswoman said.
Lisi de Bourbon said the 64-year-old bridge was due for more than maintenance and needed to be completely rebuilt because of its age. Replacement plans for the new bridge call for it to be constructed from the outside in as the new, permanent structure replaces temporary bridges that will be built on both sides of the old bridge, she said.
"This has been in the works for a long time," said de Bourbon of the $9.7 million project. "Three lanes of traffic are going to be open at all times. We're trying to minimize the disruption as possible."
Members of Community Board 10 and local residents heard about plans for the new bridge during an information public hearing at their regular meeting last Thursday.
Community Board Chairwoman Betty Braton said the project that has been discussed for years will definitely impact traffic on the busy thoroughfare where Woodhaven Boulevard turns into Cross Bay Boulevard and the Belt Parkway intersects with North and South Conduit avenues.
The bridge is also one of few outlets to Broad Channel and the Rockaway peninsula.
"We're glad it's finally getting done, but we're not happy that it is going to be a major league disruption," Braton said. "It's going to be a very difficult traffic situation."
Braton said there are very few traffic alternatives to avoid the construction. She acknowledged that the city DOT is making attempts to maintain the free flow of traffic; however, all residents and commercial traffic driving in the area will feel the pinch of the elimination of two driving lanes, she said.
"There are going to be times when this is going to be a problem," Braton said.
De Bourbon said more than 80,000 vehicles use the north and southbound bridge daily between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. De Bourbon said the DOT will begin demolishing the bridge in May and is planning to finish all construction by July 2004.
Work at the bridge in South Ozone Park is already in its initial phases, De Bourbon said, as utility companies such as Verizon and Keyspan begin to remove essential equipment. She said the project will eventually replace the existing 118-foot-long and 106-foot-wide Cross Bay Boulevard bridge.
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.
©2003 Community News Group
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