DOT updates Roosevelt Ave. Bridge plans

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Work to rehabilitate and reconstruct the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge is slated to begin before 2012 and conclude by 2015, the city Department of Transportation announced at Community Board 7’s Monday night meeting.

The 1,400-foot-long bridge, which connects downtown Flushing with Willets Point and Citi Field across the Van Wyck Expressway and Flushing River, was built between 1925 and 1927 and overhauled in the early 1980s.

Now 30 years later the bridge is in need of major work again as its deck is rutted with potholes, some of its welding points have deteriorated and rusted and its sidewalks need to be widened.

The city is planning to replace the bridge’s entire road deck, repair and paint its steel structure, expand its sidewalks from 8 to 10 feet wide each with painted bike lanes, restore concrete work and remove the abandoned station house. No work is currently scheduled for the subway portion at the top of the bridge other than painting it.

The toll on the community? An estimated 34 months of traffic disruptions.

At least one lane of traffic and one sidewalk will be open each way for the entire 34 months of work, according to the city, but for much of the three-phase project, traffic will be shut down in two of the bridge’s four vehicle lanes. There may be some traffic disruptions on the Van Wyck Expressway, but work that could affect the expressway’s traffic flow will be done at off-peak times.

Questions were raised Monday by community members concerned about the safety and integrity of the bridge.

Mousa Nasif, the DOT project engineer for the work, said the bridge is still safe as the underlying steel structure is still sound, though some minor work will be performed at some of its stress points.

The deck does need to be replaced soon, however, according to Lawrence King, deputy chief engineer of the DOT’s Bureau of Roadway Bridges.

“This deck has reached its useful life in 30 years of service and must be replaced,” he said. “Just continuing maintenance will not save this deck.”

The DOT, which did not release a figure for how much the work will cost, said the city is trying to secure stimulus or other federal funds to help offset the cost of the project to city coffers. If it cannot secure funds, however, the project will still move forward since dedicated funding has been set aside.

“In November 2010, we will have the advanced plan ready for this project,” Nasif said.

The community board held a committee meeting last Thursday night during which Rob Goldrich of the Deputy Mayor’s Office and Michael Meyer, president of TDC Development International, discussed plans to build the Flushing Commons project at the site of municipal Parking Lot 1 in downtown Flushing.

The discussion, which marked the first time the company has officially reached out to the community about the undertaking since 2007, was an “update on the project,” according to Community Board 7 First Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian.

“They’re going to go ahead with the project and want to get it certified for the ULURP process,” he said Monday, referring to the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. “We will have February and March to look into it.”

The 1.2 million-square-foot project will bring residential, retail, office space and more, along with 1.5 acres of open space, a YMCA, 1,600 parking spaces and more, according to updated plans.

The timetable, as introduced at the meeting, will go forward with the CB 7 review Feb. 3, move along through other reviews until a potential City Council vote in July, completion of ULURP in September and the beginning of construction in 2011. Occupancy is expected to take place in 2013.

The board will take the issue up again at a meeting this week.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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