1999-09-04 / Front Page

Chaos Coming?

Lanes Will Close On Bridge

Starting Wednesday, September 15 only one lane in each direction will be open to traffic on the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial bridge, as work begins on the roadway deck demolition and replacement phase of the $73 million rehabilitation project already under way at the bridge and scheduled for completion in Spring 2002. The pedestrian walkway also will be closed and demolished, and in 18 months a new walkway will open on the exterior of the east side of the bridge. Over the past three years, extensive community briefings on the project to rehabilitate the 62 year old lift span, and adjustments in design to minimize inconvenience, have been made by MTA Bridges and Tunnels.

"This investment in the future of the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial bridge will upgrade transportation between Brooklyn and the Rockaways, ensuring the safety and reliability of this vital crossing for many years to come," said MTA Chairman E. Virgil Conway.

Normally, the bridge operates two lanes in peak direction and one lane in the opposite direction. The Cross Bay bridge, four miles to the east, will remain fully open throughout the duration of rehabilitation project to minimize disruption to communities on the Rockaway peninsula.

"This project balances the need to upgrade the bridge with the needs of the community that relies on this vital transportation link. By reaching out early and working closely with the community, we have developed a scope of work that will allow the bridge to operate efficiently for our customers while we rehabilitate it," said MTA Bridge and Tunnels President Michael C. Ascher.

An initial plan for this project included round-the-clock vehicle load restrictions for trucks and buses. After input from the community, business leaders and local elected officials, MTA Bridges and Tunnels revised the work plan so that there will be only occasional load restrictions during the overnight periods, to be announced well in advance. The Green Bus Lines Q35 service also will operate without interruption during the construction period.

For safety reasons, fishing from the bridge will be prohibited during this phase.

Initial plans also called for construction closures over three summers, but the plan was reworked and reduced to two summers. Beginning the roadway project in September makes it possible for most of the work to be performed during the off-peak season, since summer is prime time at the facility. According to the schedule, lane closures will only be required during the summers of 2000 and 2001, with the full project slated for completion in Spring 2002.

Currently in the process of having all structural steel repainted gray, the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial bridge also will be getting electrical and traffic signal upgrades. The finished project also will feature a new decorative lighting system that will highlight the bridge’s silhouette. However, the main features of the renovation project include installation if a centerline divider and of a new concrete roadway, with new 12-foot wide lanes replacing the current 11-foot-wide lanes. The centerline divider will be installed to separate traffic moving in opposite directions and allow four lanes to operate simultaneously. The lift span also will get a new steel grating that will also increase safety over this part of the roadway. In addition, the project also includes the replacement of expansion joints and bearings on the facility.

There will be shuttle van service available for bicyclist who will be unable to walk their bikes across the bridge while the sidewalk is being rebuilt: Labor Day to November 15, 1999—weekdays 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. hourly and weekends/holidays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. hourly; November 16 to March 14, 2000—no shuttle service; March 15, 2000 to Memorial Day—weekdays 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. hourly and weekends/holidays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. hourly; Memorial Day to Labor Day—weekdays 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. every 30 minutes, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. hourly, 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. every 30 minutes and weekends/holidays 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. every 30 minutes; Labor Day to November 15, 2000—weekdays 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. hourly and weekends/holidays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. hourly; and November 16 to March, 20001—no shuttle service.

Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial bridge opened to traffic on July 3, 1937 and currently more than 20,000 vehicles cross the bridge daily. In 1978, Gil Hodges’ name was added to the bridge in honor of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ great first baseman and New York Mets manager.

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