A heavily traveled drawbridge below the Bruckner Interchange, the Unionport Bridge, has been scheduled for a complete replacement.
The bridge, which crosses over Westchester Creek, links the communities of Throggs Neck and Castle Hill. It is part of the Bruckner Expressway service road, and is also heavily used by commuters exiting and entering the Hutchinson River Parkway.
The city Department of Transportation has confirmed that it will begin a complete replacement of the bridge in 2016.
The new bridge would have six lanes instead of the current four, according to a Draft Preliminary Plan dated June 2014 that was obtained by the Bronx Times. All of the approaches will be completely rebuilt, and construction is expected to last four years.
According to the current plan, traffic flow across the bridge would continue uninterrupted through a series of phases of construction on the new bridge lasting four years.
Agency will seek input
A DOT spokesman said that so far the agency has “only a preliminary model” that does not represent the actual final design details of the bridge.
He said that the agency intends to keep in touch with the community during the next year.
“We will provide updates as the design process continues and will continue to work closely with community stakeholders,” he said.
A community wishlist
Martin Prince, Community Board 10’s chairman, said that the replacement project is “demonstrative of New York City’s solid commitment to maintaining and improving its infrastructure.”
“We at Community Board 10, are gratified to note that the New York City Department of Transportation has announced a contract for, and presented the preliminary plans for the complete replacement of the bascule bridge, flanking spans and all approaches for the Unionport Bridge,” said Prince.
He added: “We are especially grateful that the plan allows for traffic flow, during the construction phase.”
With so much new development, including two new shopping malls already being built or planned for construction very close to the bridge, many community leaders have developed their own wishlists of new infrastructure they would like to see along the stretch of the Bruckner Expressway and Hutchinson River Parkway that includes the Unionport Bridge.
Ferry Point community activist Dotti Poggi said that she would be interested in seeing a right turn lane for tractor trailer trucks to turn onto Brush Avenue after crossing the Unionport Bridge.
Currently very large trucks sometimes have to swing into an oncoming traffic lane on Brush Avenue, she said, and hopes that the new bridge could be designed in a way that could address this concern.
Bob Bieder, a Zerega community activist, said he would like to see the approaches between the Unionport Bridge and Zerega Avenue improved to ease traffic flow. There are often back-ups of traffic at Zerega Avenue, he said.