2004-06-04 / Community

Local Bridges Ready For Summer Traffic

Local Bridges Ready For Summer Traffic


Maintenance workers clean and service the electronic variable message sign at the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge.  A heavy-duty backup truck provides safety for the crew as they perform this work as part of the bridge’s annual preparation for the increase in summer beach traffic.Maintenance workers clean and service the electronic variable message sign at the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. A heavy-duty backup truck provides safety for the crew as they perform this work as part of the bridge’s annual preparation for the increase in summer beach traffic.

With Memorial Day upon us, memories of the harsh winter are fading as maintenance crews work hard to shake off the effects of winter and get the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridges ready for increased summer beach traffic.

"Our goal is to provide clean, safe and efficient crossings for our customers and employees," said Rockaways General Manager John Ryder who oversees the operation and maintenance of both bridges connecting to the Rockaway peninsula.

During the off peak season the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges each average approximately 18,000 vehicles a day. During the peak summer season, particularly July and August, traffic on these facilities surge to an average of nearly 24,000 a day on the Cross Bay Bridge and more than 27,000 on the Marine Parkway Bridge.

"We begin the annual process getting of ready for summer traffic with a thorough inspection of all areas at both bridges," said Ryder. "We use a safety audit guide similar to that used at all MTA Bridges and Tunnels facilities, but customized for the Rockaways’ bridges, for the inspection process."


The Marine-Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge at sunset. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is visible in the distance under the main span.The Marine-Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge at sunset. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is visible in the distance under the main span.

The inspection includes all roadways and approaches, lighting, signs, buildings and grounds for any conditions that need to be addressed. The work is then prioritized and maintenance crews are assigned to perform the necessary work.

The crews of the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges have already completed many tasks in preparing for the summer season. All potholes and broken signs have been repaired. Electronic variable message signs have been cleaned and serviced. The toll plaza islands have been swept free of roadway salt and all 22 tollbooths have been power washed. Trees damaged by winter storms have been trimmed and painting of curbs and barriers has begun.

In addition to the work on the infrastructure, which contributes to safety, employee safety is also a focus of concern as the summer approaches. In addition to the 40% increase in daily traffic, especially on the weekends, each summer college students are brought on as temporary toll collectors to help with the increase in traffic.

More than 100 students responded to postings at colleges and universities throughout the metropolitan area and submitted applications for the position. Twenty students were selected by lottery by MTA Bridges and Tunnels for the summer positions at the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway Bridges. Each candidate must be at least 18 years old, a New York State resident and U.S. citizen, with a high school diploma and a New York driver’s license. Temporary toll collectors earn $80 a day and they are eligible for overtime pay. Most of the students plan to use the money to help pay for tuition.


The students are trained to use the electronic button box, similar to a cash register that automatically classifies vehicles in the lanes and computes the correct cash toll. In addition, their training includes the agency’s toll rate structure, customer service and safety training.

"The summer program meets our need to handle the increase in customers during the beach season and it also gives them the opportunity to learn about our operations," said Ryder. "We work closely with each of them on a one-on-one basis to train them in safety procedures to ensure they know how to handle the job and themselves in a hazardous environment."

In 2003, more than 7.7 million vehicles crossed the Marine-Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge and more than 6.9 million vehicles crossed the Cross Bay Bridge.


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