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Board does not want city DOT to replace structure

Community Board 11's Transportation Committee is calling on the city to repair a Bayside footbridge near the neighborhood's Long Island Rail Road station rather than follow a proposed city Department of Transportation plan to replace it with a new structure, board members said.

The city has been weighing several options for the bridge, on the corner of 216th Street near the LIRR station in Bayside, which include keeping its structure intact and making upgrades, replacing it with an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant structure that could cost several million dollars or removing it.

But CB 11's Transportation Committee is recommending that the city maintain the current structure as opposed to replacing it.

"The bottom line is that $3 million is a lot of money to spend for a bridge when they can just maintain the bridge as it is now," said Andrew Rothman, a board member who sits on the committee. "There are better things we can do with $3 million."

Rothman said the DOT's proposed ADA-compliant structure for the site would be too large.

A DOT spokesman said the agency would not comment until the board had voted on a proposal for the structure.

Susan Seinfeld, the board's district manager, said the board would discuss proposals for the footbridge at its monthly meeting Monday and that the matter could come to a vote. She said most of the community supports keeping the current structure.

"It's structurally sound, but there is some cement on its walkway and some of the stairs that have outlived their lifespan," she said. "It gets to the point where it crumbles and falls apart. But the bridge's steel structure is safe and can be used."

Board member Frank Skala said some Bayside residents use the bridge to get to work or reach other neighborhood sites, including the 111th Precinct, Bayside Library or restaurants along Northern Boulevard.

"The opinion has been universal that it should not be removed," he said. "No one wants the alternative, which looks like a gantry in a steelyard. And with the current financial crisis, it's highly unlikely that anything will be done because there's no money."

He said the board could potentially vote to do nothing at the bridge, which has been in the community for nearly 100 years.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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