With city bid proposals going out for a new – and not entirely wanted – City Island bridge, opponents are warning the project could run way over its three-year timetable.
The official Requests for Proposals went out last week to replace the current iconic City Island Bridge with a modern steel cabled bridge over Eastchester Bay to the nautical island community.
A spokesman for the city Department of Transportation said the RFP, due on Dec. 6, covers both demolition of the existing bridge and the construction of both a temporary bridge and the replacement bridge.
“The DOT will review all submissions and expects to select a contractor in the first half of 2013,” said DOT spokesman Nicholas Mosquera.
Many in City Island community oppose what they call the out-of-touch modernist look of the new bridge.
They charge they were not consulted enough on what kind of bridge they would like to see, said City Island Civic Association vice president Barbara Dolensek. Those aren’t the only objections, she said.
“The design is inappropriate, but mostly we are concerned about the fact that it will take so long to build,” said Dolensek. “While a simpler bridge that is built off-site could just be brought in[by barge and probably be finished in less than a year, they are saying that this will take three years.”
Judging by how long similar projects take, and specifically citing a bridge rehab over railroad tracks in Pelham Bay Park that has gone on for three years, Dolensek said she estimates that the three-year timetable could easily turn into five years. She fears area businesses could suffer if the construction runs too long.
“They could easily rehab the present bridge, and if they were really worried about it, they could put up a weight restriction, which they haven’t,” said Dolensek.
With federal, state and city money, she estimated the new bridge to cost about $150 million – money that could be used for rehabilitation and upkeep on the present quaint and symbolic bridge, which many feel is more in keeping with the low scale of the island.
“We are just feeling like this is being shoved down our throats, and that they don’t care,” said Dolensek.
Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Councilman Jimmy Vacca believe that the project may require a lengthy Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, because a DOT document from 2007 indicated that the reconstruction project may require changes to the city map.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3393