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Major construction begins on Kosciuszko Bridge

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One of Maspeth’s busiest avenues has been closed as major construction on the Kosciuszko Bridge gets underway.

Beginning on Monday, 54th Avenue between Laurel Hill Boulevard and 43rd Street was closed in both directions, and it will remain closed until February 2016, according to the state Department of Transportation.

In an advisory, the DOT indicated that the closure is required in order for contractors to partially remove an existing BQE viaduct, then install new underground utilities and girders and an abutment wall for the new bridge.

As alternate routes, drivers who normally head east on 54th Avenue should instead turn east on 54th Road from Laurel Hill Boulevard, then north on 43rd Street to 54th Avenue. Drivers heading west from 54th Avenue should turn south on 43rd Street, then west on 54th Road to Laurel Hill Boulevard.

Construction on the Kosciuszko Bridge, which is the flagship capital transportation project for both Queens and Brooklyn, will cost, in total, approximately $800 million, with $670 million coming in federal funds. The project is a joint public-private partnership and is the single largest contract the DOT has ever undertaken, according to a statement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The project’s $555 million first phase, which has already begun, will include both the construction of a new eastbound cable suspension bridge and the removal of the old bridge. A second westbound bridge will then be constructed as part of Phase 2. Phase 1 is expected to be completed in late 2017, while Phase 2 is expected to be completed in mid-2020, according to the DOT.

Built in 1939, the aging Kosciuszko Bridge is part of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, connecting Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and Long Island City, Queens.

The bridge, notorious for bottlenecks, accidents and general delays, was rated by the General Contractors Association as being in the poorest condition of any elevated bridge in the five boroughs.

The new bridge will be 45 feet lower than the original—as the original’s height was causing traffic issues. The new bridge will also improve traffic safety, reduce congestion and improve travel speeds. Enhancements to the roadway will include extra lanes, wider lanes and a reduced incline that will create longer sight lines and increased visibility. The project will also include a new bikeway and walkway on the bridge; new parks and open spaces; improved access to the waterfront; and enhancements to local streets.

Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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