Today’s news:

Qns. delays expected with bridge repairs

The city Department of Transportation has begun a half-billion-dollar rehabilitation project to restore seven bridges on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, which is expected to affect Queens residents significantly.

The Queens Borough Board heard in detail Monday about the massive project, which will renew and rebuild the seven bridges, most of which project officials said “have passed their useful life,” dating back to the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt.

The work began last month and is scheduled to be finished by October 2014. The bridges are at Fresh Creek Basin, Rockaway Parkway, Paerdegat Basin, Mill Basin, Gerritsen Inlet, Nostrand Avenue and Bay Ridge Avenue.

Frank Gallo, of the consulting firm GPI/CTE, which is working under the DOT, said Belt Parkway traffic will not be detoured onto local streets, pedestrian and bicycle traffic access will not be interrupted and off-line construction would greatly reduce traffic delays.

Gallo said the contracts for the work provide a $35,000 fine for each day the project is late. He said no lanes would be shut down during morning rush hour.

“Although these bridges are located within Brooklyn, construction on them is expected to have a great effect on many Queens residents while work goes on,” said Maura McCarthy, Queens borough commissioner for the DOT.

McCarthy also said massive numbers of trees and shrubs would be removed for the construction, but Gallo said they would be replaced with appropriate and non-invasive plants.

The Borough Board also heard a report on a program called “It’s a Hot Summer in Queens” to attract tourists to the borough.

Terri Osborne, director of culture and tourism in Borough President Helen Marshall’s office, said tourism officials recently entertained Northern Ireland journalists at a lunch following a tour of Queens attractions.

Michelle Stoddard of the Queens Economic Development Corp. reported another annual success in the response to offers by restaurants taking part in Restaurant Week.

Osborne also said a subway car formerly on the No. 7 subway line, which is on display outside Borough Hall, is now staffed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and questions and suggestions from visitors are included in a report called “Heard in the Redbird.”

A survey disclosed that among Queens attractions, the Noguchi Museum of Sculpture in Long Island City came in at the top, followed by the Queens County Farm Museum and Alley Pond Park nature preserve.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 136.

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