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Steinway bridge reopening delayed as firm defaults

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An independent study of the accident found that New Jersey-based Cal-Tran Associates' "means and methods of demolishing the bridge was unsafe and contributed to the collapse," said David Woloch, deputy commissioner for external affairs for the DOT.Cal-Tran quit the project Feb. 23 and on March 25 was found in default, pushing back the completion of the bridge at least six months to late 2006 while the DOT finds a new contractor to restore two-way traffic to the 67-year-old overpass, Woloch said. After a delay of two months, a temporary overpass allowing for northbound and pedestrian traffic was installed in January. The DOT had promised to have the fabricated steel structure in place before the holidays, infuriating merchants and politicians who said the closed overpass was hurting local businesses. City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said the new delay is unacceptable. "They're taking too long to get the bridge back up," Vallone said. "The bottom line is this is an additional delay these businesses were not able to plan for ... The city needs to step up and help them during this time."Cal-Tran was contracted to raze the bridge in thirds, a DOT decision that would allow traffic to continue moving across the busy commercial strip, Woloch said. The contractor made improper calculations that caused two 60-ton slabs to fall onto the parkway July 23, landing on the front end of a truck driven by a 47-year-old man, Woloch said. "Basically the way it was cut, those pieces could not sustain themselves," Woloch said. "They should have known as they prepared to do that work that those pieces could not sustain themselves."Cal-Tran, which renovated at least two other overpasses for the DOT without hazard, declined to comment. "This is a legal matter. We can't comment on this," said a woman who answered the phone at the firm's West Caldwell, N.J. offices.Both Cal-Tran and the city have been named in a $21 million lawsuit filed by Dimitrios Godosis,, the injured Long Island man who has been bed-ridden since his right knee was shattered in the collapse, according to his lawyer Charles Gucciardo. Gucciardo said the contractor and New York City are responsible for the accident and should both accept responsibility. "It's the typical 'I didn't do it, they did,'" Gucciardo said. "What they should do with this case is realize that a major blunder was made here. They should put their heads together and say: 'Who's going to (pay for) this?'"The case was scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Queens Supreme Court this week. Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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