2007-08-17 / Community

Plan To Replace 'Structurally Deficient'Bridge

By Brian Magoolaghan

A plan is in the works to replace a structurally deficient and dangerous span used by many motorists from this area, and the U.S. Coast Guard is seeking the public's input.

Plans for the 65-year-old Mill Basin Bridge, located in Brooklyn, between exits 11 and 12 on the Belt Parkway, would replace it with a new, fixed span that will be longer and wider.

The new span - a reinforced concrete slab structure - would have six widened travel lanes, shoulders, medians and pedestrian/bicycle lanes, according to the Department of Transportation's proposed plans described in a recent public notice issued by the Coast Guard. The minimum vertical clearance would be 60 feet above mean high water (MHW).

"This bridge would represent an increase of about 1,780 feet in length over the existing bridge and a width increase of about 46 feet," says the notice. "Approaches to the bridge will also be widened."

In order to maintain six travel lanes during the project, a temporary roadway and pedestrian/bike path would be constructed to bypass the existing span. Upon completion of the replacement, the span built in 1942 would be removed to a minimum of two feet below the waterway bottom or to the "ground line." A sub-marine cable will also be removed.

"The work is being done because the existing bridge is structurally deficient, has substandard design fea- tures, experiences congestion, has a higher than average accident rate," the notice says - the two latter issues should come as no surprise to motorists who use the troubled span.

The Coast Guard says the decision to approve the DOT's plans "rests primarily on the effect it has on navigation" - specifically the change from the unlimited vertical clearance provided by the existing double-leaf bascule to the 60 feet of clearance above MHW provided by the proposed replacement. Boaters in the area are being asked to comment on any navigational safety issues and to describe their watercraft.

The DOT has recently undertaken construction projects to maintain the existing span but also says it "has outlived its useful service life." The bridge work is part of a DOT project to rehabilitate or reconstruct nine bridges and one ramp along 7 and a half miles of the Belt Parkway.

Comments should be sent to Commander (dpb), First Coast Guard District, Battery Park Building, One South Street, New York, NY 10004- 1466. They will be accepted through August 30, 2007.

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