Now that the new City Island Bridge is open, a problem that arose during its reconstruction appears to have been resolved.
One of the remaining projects on the overall construction checklist is the rebuilding of the Legion Triangle at the foot of the new bridge at City Island Avenue and Bridge Street.
It was suspected for a brief period that the left turn from City Island Avenue onto Bridge Street would not be permitted once the plaza was reconstructed.
The community was relieved to learn that traffic would continue to flow as it has in the past, said community members.
Gerard ‘Skip’ Giacco, City Island Chamber of Commerce president, said that he believes that if a left turn was banned, it would negatively impact businesses on Bridge Street, especially the City Island Lobster House and JP’s Restaurant.
“It was (understood) that the left turn that existed there was under (NYC) Department of Transportation standards,” said Giacco, adding that the concern was quickly resolved in a matter of days and the agency was very responsive.
The monument area at the Legion Triangle is being enlarged, with plans calling for a sidewalk and crosswalks.
Giacco said that Assemblyman Michael Benedetto’s office intervened at the business community’s request, while the City Island Civic Association board members reached out to Senator Jeff Klein and Councilman James Vacca’s offices.
All existing allowable traffic movements on the island near the bridge construction, including turns on and off Bridge Street, will continue after construction, said a DOT spokeswoman.
This includes a left onto City Island Avenue for drivers coming from Bridge Street.
“The size of the new (legion) island will be slightly larger to better present the monuments and flagpole and to accommodate additional visitors, especially during veteran related events,” said the DOT spokeswoman.
Jojo Mandarino, City Island Lobster House owner, said losing the left onto Bridge Street from City Island Avenue would have had a terrible impact on his business as motorists would have to travel several more blocks, through residential streets, to reach his restaurant.
He added that the left turn was also necessary for the residents who live near that particular part of City Island.
“It would be a detriment to the whole community on this side (of the island), not just the restaurants,” said Mandarino, adding that the turn actually siphons traffic away from City Island Avenue.
Another restaurant owner on nearby Minnieford Avenue, John Pirraglia of JP’s Restaurant, said he wasn’t concerned about the elimination of the left turn since there are multiple ways to reach his restaurant.
The Legion Triangle is a tribute to service men and women he said, and he did not want to hinder its construction.
“God bless all military personnel, past and present,” said Pirraglia.
The most inconveniencing matter affecting the area would have been the delivery trucks that service the restaurants daily, using Cross Street and Minnieford Avenue instead of Bridge Street, if the turn was eliminated.
Barbara Dolesnek, CICA vice president, said that she believes the Legion Triangle design originally presented by DOT may need to be redone to accommodate the changes.
Senator Jeff Klein stated that he was glad DOT heeded the community’s concern.
The DOT spokeswoman said that the remaining work on the bridge replacement project will continue through the winter and wrap up in late spring.