A new City Island Bridge took another major step forward, despite community outcry over its modernist design.
The City has awarded a $102.7 million contract to lowest bidder Tutor Perini, a California-based construction company, to build the bridge.
City Comptroller John Liu’s office is now reviewing the contract.
“While the timeline for the project’s start will be determined when registration is complete, construction is scheduled to be completed within three years,” said Department of Transportation spokesman Nicholas Mosquera. “As part of this process, a temporary bridge will be constructed next to the existing bridge, allowing for the maintenance of existing traffic capacity throughout construction.”
The City Island Civic Association has been a staunch opponent of the design of the new bridge, a single steel tower cable-stayed span that looks nothing like the existing bridge built at the turn of the 20th century.
“I am not sure if they have ever built a cable-stayed bridge before,” CICA vice-president Barbara Dolensek said of Tutor Perini, but a company spokesman said a subsidiary has built one in Milwaukee.
Dolensek, a vocal opponent of the project as planned, noted that the same firm had been ensnared in some controversy when they did reconstruction work on the Verranzano-Narrows Bridge involving the use of Chinese steel in the project.
Tutor Perini spokesman Jorge Casado said while the company had originally said construction was to have begun this past April, he now believes it will begin by the end of the year.
The project includes demolition of the existing bridge, reconstruction of the approach roadways, rehabilitation of City Island Park’s Catherine Scott Promenade, and improvements to Pelham Bay Park’s landscaping, according to Tutor Perini.
The company stated that it would be the first cable-stayed bridge in New York State.
It is yet not clear if Comptroller Liu will register the contract. Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Councilman Jimmy Vacca have raised objections to the project, including that since it appeared the bridge reconstruction would require changes to the city map, a Uniform Land-Use Review Process would be needed.
Local journalist Roberto Soto who runs a popular news website on City Island – cimages.me – believes it would be wrong for the community to stand in the way of a badly needed project, especially since the current bridge is decaying.
“City Island is going to stay the same regardless of whether we have a larger or smaller bridge,” said Soto. “The fact of the matter is that we need a new bridge, but there is a lot of push back on the upgrading. We are living in 2013 and need to move forward. The older bridge has outlived its usefulness.”
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3393