A long-awaited infrastructure project that will rebuild a vital link for motorists is set to begin.
The NYC Department of Transportation has announced the commencement of a four-year project to rebuild the Unionport Bridge on Bruckner Boulevard that starts on or around Thursday, February 22.
The first change motorists will see with the drawbridge replacement project will involve a partial reduction of travel lanes from two to one on the westbound roadway that allows traffic to exit to Zerega Avenue.
This change is expected to last about six months and is designed to allow for the creation of a work zone for the construction of the entire bridge, according to DOT.
More delays can be expected as the work on the bridge replacement ramps up, according to several sources.
Both community boards 9 and 10 are in favor of replacing the bridge, which carries 60,000 vehicles per day.
William Rivera, CB 9 district manager, said that DOT has assigned a community liaison to which they will direct any concerns regarding the project, as well as hold public hearing to explain the project’s various phases.
“The bridge needs to be replaced,” said Rivera, but he stressed that there are still going to be community concerns.
In the past, some capital projects in CB 9 have run over time, said Rivera, adding that the board is always watchful about the traffic snarls created by the lengthy reconstruction period.
“We do have concerns because it is a larger and longer project,” said Rivera. “And we have had smaller projects in the past that went over time and caused traffic and parking issues; it is the nature of the beast, and we are ready for it.”
Matt Cruz, CB 10 district manager, said as the project gets fully underway, there will be an adjustment period as the number of travel lanes is reduced at times.
At some point in the project, the number of travel lanes on the existing bridge may be reduced from four to two lanes, one in each direction, he said.
“The thing that is going to cause the most short-term pain is the adjustment period to the number of lanes, which I believe will dwindle to two.”
Traffic agents would be present to direct traffic, and Cruz urged motorists to cooperate with them.
Bob Bieder, a Zerega stakeholder and a longtime CB 10 member, said that the replacement project is long overdue.
“The bridge is in pretty bad shape underneath from the pictures they showed us, and the roadway is not good either,” he said, adding that he believes that the city and community should look into the feasibility of building a second bridge over Westchester Creek at Lafayette Avenue.
He said he expects the Home Depot on Bruckner Boulevard, the Zerega Industrial Business Zone and business and residents on Brush Avenue to be impacted by the construction.
Dotti Poggi, a long-time Ferry Point community activist said that much of the construction would be done at night, based on her understanding.
The project’s community liaison, Michael Heller, can provide information about the reconstruction.
He can be reached at (718) 314-7199 or newun