2009-06-25 / Top Stories

Delayed Belt Pkwy. Bridge Reconstruction Set To Start This Sept.

By Marianna Hernandez

Delayed Mill Basin drawbridge replacement to start later this year. Neil S. Friedman        Delayed Mill Basin drawbridge replacement to start later this year. Neil S. Friedman In many urban areas the focus for local governments over the last few years has shifted to infrastructures, such as bridges, roads and tunnels, in need of repair. At last week's monthly Community Board 18 meeting that issue was addressed.

District Manager, Dorothy Turano announced on June 17 that starting in September, the city's Department of Transportation (DOT) would begin the first phase of the long-awaited reconstruction and conversion of the Mill Basin drawbridge and repairs to the span over Paerdegat Basin.

"The bridges that currently exist are deteriorating and in bad shape, but they will soon be turned into magnificent new structures," said Turano.

A new bridge, east of Flatbush Avenue, will require the elimination of the drawbridge that will be replaced by a fixed structure with a 60-foot clearance over Mill Basin to accommodate the path of vessels with high mastheads. The new span will allow for increased sight distances, as well as an additional eight inches in lane widths and safety shoulders in both directions. The channel will remain navigable during construction and a fender system will be installed to protect the bridge substructure from marine traffic mishaps.

Opened in 1940, the Mill Basin drawbridge is adjacent to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge and the Gateway National Recreation Area. The bridge, which now has a 35-foot clearance, is the only movable bridge on the Belt Parkway. Construction is scheduled to take place in non-rush hours to reduce the necessity of lane closures and extensive traffic delays.

The Paerdegat Basin Bridge will also undergo renovation for the repair of damage to one of its concrete piers, in addition to other structural concerns. The span and its approach roadways will be demolished and replaced by two new bridges and roadways. Both the horizontal and vertical alignments will change resulting in improved sight distances on the bridge and its roadways.

The eastbound bridge will have a new pedestrian/bicycle path that will be separated from traffic lanes by a concrete barrier and by a 15-foot wide grass mall on the roadways. The existing bridge will remain in service during construction. Traffic will be directed towards the new structures upon completion and the old structure will be demolished.

During the past 60 years, since the Belt Parkway opened, traffic demands gradually soared. With the opening of Idlewild Airport in 1948, the development of Long Island and the opening of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, it added demand on the Belt Parkway. The parkway was originally planned for 20,000 cars a day, but has risen to more than 100,000.

According to DOT, the reconstruction is a necessity to alleviate current substandard conditions so they meet state and federal requirements. Some of the standards are wider lanes and safety shoulders, median barriers, super-elevation of the roadways and realignment of approach roadways.

A DOT spokesman said that the project's mission is primarily to reduce current accident rates.

Turano explained that the Mill Basin and Paerdegat Basin bridges would be built adjacent to the existing structures.

CB 18 residents will receive updates of each project's status at monthly meetings and announcements in the Canarsie Courier. Electronic message signs will provide drivers of traffic conditions and scheduled construction. Police officers will monitor traffic during the bridge changes and tow truck service will be made readily available to provide assistance with damaged vehicles.

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I really enjoyed reading this story and seeing the photo of that bridge... that's where my father taugh me how to fish!
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