2007-06-22 / Community

Major Bridgework Starts Next Month: MTA

By Brian Magoolaghan

By Brian Magoolaghan

Just when it seemed as if the roadwork in Rockaway - and the griping about it by motorists - had reached a crescendo, the MTA is set to chime in with major bridgework.

Deck replacement will start on the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge mid-to-late next month, and will require one lane closure in each direction for the next three years, according to Catherine Sweeney, a spokesperson for MTA Bridges and Tunnels.

A long string of overnight closures is also slated for the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, but that won't be until after Labor Day, Sweeney said.

The work on the Cross Bay Bridge is part of a $56.9 million project to repair that bridge's decks and ramps that was supposed to begin in the fall of 2006. Sweeney said more elaborate plans were changed because "the project bids were too high and were cancelled."

"The project was reformulated to focus on the deck and the ramps," said Sweeney. "The substructure work will be done in the next capital program."

Work on the bridge's ramps, which will require a series of ramp closures and tricky detours, is tentatively scheduled to begin in the spring of 2008.

"Ramp closures will only occur off-season, not between Memorial Day and Labor Day," Sweeney said. "We have worked closely with Community Board 14 and District Manager Jonathan Gaska on the detours to minimize inconvenience and impacts."

CB14, the city and this newspaper have received a high volume of complaints from motorists this year due to the major road and sewer projects throughout the peninsula.

Structural steel repairs, which have resulted in lane closures, started last month on the Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge. Sweeney said a series of 25 overnight closures, to allow work on the overhead bridge structure, is scheduled to start sometime after Labor Day. Those closures, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., will not occur on weekends or holidays, and emergency vehicles will still be able to make crossings, she said.

"We appreciate our customers' patience," said Sweeney. "When we're finished, [the bridges] will be better than ever and ready for many more years of service."

The Cross Bay Bridge, originally a low level drawbridge, was first constructed in 1939 by the New York City Parkway Authority, according to the MTA. It was replaced in 1970 by the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, a higher fixed-level bridge which allows large boats to pass underneath without motor vehicle traffic delays associated with drawbridges.

The Marine Parkway Bridge-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, which has a center span that lifts vertically, opened in 1937. The MTA and officials from Gateway National Recreation area are planning a 70th anniversary celebration for the span at the Riis Park Bathhouse on Tuesday, July 3 starting at 11 a.m. The celebration will include a motorcade of antique cars, a photo display and more, organizers said.

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