Temporary pedestrian overpass rises

(L-r) Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Senator Jeff Klein, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, state DOT executive deputy commissioner Stan Gee, Marco Carrion representing Governor Paterson, Sr. Mary Flores, state DOT regional director Doug Currey, P.S. 14 Senator John Calandra school principal Jason Kovac, and Sr. Margaret Mary Chiffriller at the ribbon cutting for the Waterbury Avenue temporary pedestrian bridge on Tuesday, September 2. Photo by Patrick Rocchio

When a dump truck heading southbound on the Bruckner Expressway destroyed a pedestrian bridge at Waterbury Avenue, many were worried that schoolchildren at P.S. 14 would have a hard time getting to class safely. Concerns also existed regarding visitors and workers at Providence Rest nursing home in Country Club.

The portion over the southbound roadway was knocked down on August 8, when the bridge that linked Country Club with Waterbury-LaSalle was destroyed around 2 a.m. on Friday, August 8 when a dump truck with its lift section raised slammed into the span.

Now, all of the worries about the disruption caused by the loss of the Waterbury pedestrian bridge seem to have abated.

A temporary bridge over the southbound portion of the structure was dedicated on Tuesday, September 2, with state Department of Traffic officials, Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, P.S. 14 principal Jason Kovac, and Sisters Mary Flores and Margaret Mary Chiffriller of Providence Rest Nursing Home on hand.

“It was just 25 days ago that an unfortunate accident ripped away this community’s critical connection over the Bruckner Expressway,” said state DOT executive deputy commissioner Stan Gee at the opening. “So, we set a goal to have a temporary bridge open in time for students to use on the opening day of school. I’m happy to say we’ve handed in this assignment on time.”

Assemblyman Benedetto visited the scene the morning when the accident occurred, and he heaped praise upon state DOT for acting so quickly to remedy the situation.

“I want to thank the DOT for acting swiftly in restoring this footbridge,” Benedetto noted. “Hundreds of students from local schools are serviced by the bridge every day, and its restoration is vital to this community.”

Senator Klein also worked tirelessly in bringing the DOT to the conclusion that community already had come to about the vital resource. “This bridge has been serving the community for years and its importance in helping make the first day of school for students and parents an easy one cannot be overstated,” said Klein. “I am glad the NYS DOT recognized the importance this pedestrian walkway plays in this neighborhood on a daily basis and made it their priority to have it accessible once again for families in the area.

However, Councilman Vacca noted that all of the footbridges crossing the Bruckner Expressway in the Pelham Bay and Throggs Neck area suffer from graffiti vandalism, with seeming impunity on the part of the young misfits prowling the overpasses at night. Nevertheless, Vacca was pleased with the re-opening of the footbridge, and cannot wait to see more state DOT improvements.

“This rapid response from state DOT shows what’s possible when government agencies work together with local communities to get the job done,” Vacca noted. “I promise to lend any support I can in the months ahead as the State determines how best to complete the project.”

The cost of the interim span in estimated at $100,000. Design of a replacement permanent span is currently underway.

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