Who would have ever imaged that the Department of Transportation’s ambitious Seven Bridges project would be ahead of schedule? Way back when the project began in 2009, our readers and community leaders expressed concern that the seven-year plan would stretch into the long haul.
But, gift of gifts, the reconstruction project is one year ahead of schedule, according to DOT authorities.
In an e-mail update on the project, their outreach team wrote:
Miscellaneous punch list work remains, but no restrictions of traffic are anticipated outside of the daily, permitted lane closures through the completion of the project in October 2014. NYCDOT would like to thank the public and motorist for their patience and we are glad to report that the project is a year ahead of schedule.
The agency expects to hit the latest milestone on Wednesday, August 21, when they will announce all major work is officially complete on the first three bridges: Paerdegat Basin, Rockaway Parkway and Fresh Creek Basin, covering the bridges between exits 11 and 14.
Meanwhile, work will soon begin on the dismantling of the next batch of bridges, eventually seeing the replacement of the Nostrand Avenue Bridge, Gerritsen Inlet Bridge, Mill Basin Bridge, and Bay Ridge Avenue Bridge.
As we wrote in 2010:
The plans show the DOT is emphasizing increased safety, traffic flow, design aesthetics, and environmental protection as they go forward with the project.
Though the three bridges currently being worked on are the largest projects, commuters and boaters will likely experience the largest impact at the Mill Basin Bridge. Built circa 1940, the drawbridge has a 35-foot clearance. The new bridge will be a fixed structure with a 60-foot clearance. Lanes will be expanded by half a foot, and safety shoulders will be added in both directions. A new fender system will be installed to protect the bridge substructure from marine traffic.
Sheepshead Bay residents will also see benefits from the Nostrand Avenue overpass renovations. Currently the support columns of the three span structure blocks the view of car traffic underneath. The proposal aims to turn it into a single span, removing the supports to improve sight lines. Nostrand Avenue will be widened and realigned. Meanwhile, on the Belt itself, the road will be widened to provide safety shoulders, parapets will be installed, and the corrugated metal guide rails will be replaced with a reinforced concrete median.
The DOT has also made some alterations in response to community concerns. In Bergen Beach, residents complained that the new roadway configuration made visible to residents the rapid succession of headlights from the vehicles. The DOT has installed 392 feet of 6-foot-tall “glare fencing” to respond to the concern:
What do you think of the new bridges, and how the DOT has managed the project?