Feds delay Kosciuszko work to wait for tribal leaders’ OK

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The construction of the replacement for the aging Kosciuszko Bridge across Newtown Creek may be delayed for months after the Federal Highway Authority determined two American Indian tribes that once used the land must sign off on the project.

The Stockbridg­e−Munsee Mohicans in Wisconsin and the Delaware Nation in Oklahoma must give their opinions on the project before the federal government can approve it, according to published reports.

The state Department of Transportation did not return calls by press time Tuesday.

“It seems that when the bridge was being built, there may have been some treaties with the Indians who used the land for hunting and fishing grounds,” said Vincent Arcuri, chairman of Community Board 5. “We’re now waiting for a response from people that probably don’t even know where Newtown Creek is.”

February is the earliest the plan could move forward, according to published reports.

The $630 million project was already delayed this summer after the federal government decided it needed to review the cost and construction schedule for the 69−year−old bridge. The state Department of Transportation plans to build parallel bridges on either side of the existing structure.

Once the federal study is completed and a report has been issued, the DOT will assess the findings, complete an environmental impact statement and within 30 days release its decision, Levine said.

The state DOT has said it probably will begin construction on the bridge in 2010.

— Jeremy Walsh

Updated 6:39 pm, October 10, 2011
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