As the start of construction nears for the new Unionport Drawbridge, residents have questions about how the work will affect them.
William Nyman, a senior project manager at Hardesty & Hanover - the development company overseeing the bridge’s replacement, and some NYC Department of Transportation representatives addressed many of these issues during a Wednesday, January 11 presentation at Monsignor Scanlan High School.
Construction of the new bridge is scheduled to begin later this year and continue through 2021.
The current bridge, which runs across Westchester Creek at the Bruckner Interchange, will be replaced by two side-by-side one-leaf bridges, each having three lanes.
The westbound traffic will get a dedicated lane for vehicles existing onto Zerega Avenue and the east bound side will offer a lane turning onto Brush Avenue.
Nyman said the reason for implementing a one leaf bridge - meaning the bridge will only open one way - is so that all the machinery to open the bridge is on one side and it will be easier to fix any issues with the bridge.
In addition, there will be a 12-foot wide bike path on the new northern bridge and a five-foot wide pedestrian sidewalk on the new southern bridge.
Construction workers will begin building the southern-most bridge while the old bridge stays operational.
Nyman said the new bridge will be built in the open position as not to create problems for any vessels carrying oil on Westchester Creek to Schildwacher Fuel.
When the new south bridge is lowered into position to facilitate its completion in the summer of 2019 the old Unioport Bridge will be dismantled and two temporary bridges will be constructed to carry the bridge traffic over the creek for the next 60 days.
Afterwards, all traffic will then travel on the new south bridge, the temporary bridges will be removed and work will start on the north bridge in the open position.
The south bridge, will contain four, 11-foot traffic lanes - two traveling east and two traveling west.
The bridge construction will affect residents of both the Community 9 and Community Board 10.
CB 9 district manager William Rivera asked Nyman when he and and the DOT anticipate the most traffic during the four-year period.
Rivera said he was worried about possible lane closures in instances when the constractor brings in extra equipment.
Nyman said workers are under DOT’s Office of Construction Mitigation and Coordination regulations, so they are only allowed to bring equipment in at certain times overnight.
Pete Sullivan, chair of CB 10’s Land Use Committee, asked why the 12-foot bike path couldn’t be reduced to around nine feet to add a three-foot pedestrian walkway on that side also.
This would allow them to walk on either bridge.
Nyman said the path could be seen as a shared-use path meaning both cyclists and pedestrians can use it.
Nyman said there will be penalties if the contractor does not finish the bridge work on time.
According to the DOT the construction for the Unionport Bridge is expected to go out to bid by June.