The MTA has debuted a new traffic pattern on the southbound side of the Whitestone Bridge, and it wants drivers to be aware of a shift in their interborough routes.
Signs are in place informing drivers that the Queens-bound lanes now include two lanes to the far right and a reversible lane to the far left, separated by a work zone near the center lane, a minor change from the previous setup, according to MTA Bridges and Tunnels.
“It’s going to be such a slight shift that they might not even notice it. They’re just going to start working on another lane,” Bridges and Tunnels spokeswoman Judie Glave said. “They’re going to see the signs saying to follow the lanes, and they’re just going to go with the flow of traffic pretty much, and we just wanted to give them a heads-up so people know its happening.”
One of the three lanes headed into Queens from the Bronx will continue to be closed 24 hours a day through fall, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said.
Three lanes will head into the Bronx and two into Queens from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., and on weekends there will be three Queens-bound lanes and two Bronx-bound ones, the MTA said. A moveable barrier will allow workers to shift the lanes according to this schedule.
“We’re moving forward and another lane is being done. The Bronx side is getting closer to completion,” Glave said, adding that the work should be completed by late fall.
The news about the traffic pattern shift, which went into effect Saturday, comes as an expected component of the MTA’s continuing work to rehabilitate the bridge, which was built in the 1930s.
Bidding closed April 5 for the contract to complete the final phase of a four-year, $200 million project to rehabilitate the aging bridge. The work will replace the entire Queens approach to the bridge, widen its lanes and install emergency shoulders over the course of 42 months. The MTA expects to award the contract by early July, according to Glave.
There will be 378 days of lane closures during that phase of construction and the Third Avenue exit off the Whitestone Expressway will be closed for up to two years while the work is underway, according to Bridges and Tunnels. For most of that period, only one lane will be shut down at a time in order to allow crews to replace the bridge’s 72-year-old roadway decking.
In 2010, 41 million vehicles used the Whitestone Bridge, according to the MTA. Construction on the Bronx approach to the bridge, which began in December 2008, is ongoing. So far, new foundations and concrete piers have been constructed beneath the bridge and two lanes of the approach roadway heading to the Bronx have been replaced.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cn
©2011 Community News Group
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