City DOT: Westchester Avenue crossing over the Hutch to be rebuilt

This is the initial rendering of the project as planned.
Photo courtesy of DOT

It’s not the London Bridge, but it’s coming down non the less.

The NYC Department of Transportation is planning a permanent fix to an east Bronx overpass that has been the subject of many collisions.

DOT announced that in late 2016 it will begin the complete replacement of the superstructure of the Westchester Avenue overpass that crosses the Hutchinson River Parkway, raising the clearance on the parkway from 9 to 11 feet to at least 12 feet and six inches, according to an agency spokeswoman.

The project will feature the replacement of the bridge deck, as well as supporting girders.

This is especially important because large trucks, that should not be on the parkway, have repeatedly struck the bottom portion of the overpass in the past several years.

Councilman James Vacca said when the project starts motorists may be in for major traffic inconveniences.

“We already have traffic problems there, and I think as construction proceeds DOT needs to be sensitive to the fact that this is one of most congested locations in my district,” said Vacca. “How we mitigate that going forth will be very important during the construction.”

The councilman said that he was happy to learn that the plan also calls for adding a right turn lane onto Waters Place at the southbound Westchester Avenue exit off the Hutch.

Traffic is building up in this area due to the ever-expanding Hutchinson Metro Center .

The $1 billion 911 call center is set to start ramping up operations soon, said Vacca.

“I think we can only expect more construction there in the future,” the councilman said of Waters Place, adding he is still advocacing for a direct connection from the Hutchinson River Parkway into the Hutchinson Metro Center built.

Members of the East Bronx Traffic Coalition, a consortium of civic groups concerned about escalating congestion, also said the news was a step in the right direction. They also offered suggestions.

EBTC member John Marano said that he would like to see NYPD traffic agents at that location during the reconstruction period.

He would like the new Westchester Avenue overpass to be widened to accommodate more vehicles.

The situation turning onto Westchester Avenue from Waters Place has become increasingly unbearable, said EBTC member John Doyle, and this has been made worse by current maintenance work on the bridge.

“Overall, this is definitely a step in the right direction,” said Doyle.

According to DOT, construction on the new overpass will take place at night.

“DOT will maintain the current number of travel lanes on Westchester Avenue during this construction,” stated the DOT spokeswoman. “On the Hutchinson River Parkway, single and double lane overnight closures will be required.”

Limited full closures of the parkway during late night and early morning hours should be expected for removal and installation of girders, according to DOT.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Jammed traffic is a frequent occurrence on the Westchester Avenue overpass crossing the Hutchinson River Parkway. The structure is undergoing work after several trucks collided into the bridge.
Photo courtsey of Michael McNerney

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