Unionport Bridge reconstruction beginning in 2017

Details continue to emerge about an upcoming bridge replacement project that will have consequences for east Bronx commuters and motorists.

The replacement of the Unionport Bridge, a vital link under the Bruckner Interchange spanning Westchester Creek, is scheduled to begin in 2017.

The bridge is a heavily travelled road for motorists seeking to access both the Bruckner and Cross Bronx expressways and the Hutchinson River Parkway.

According to a NYC Department of Transportation spokeswoman, meetings with nearby communities are being planned to review the construction that will take place.

“The Unionport Bridge project remains on track for a spring (or) summer 2017 start of construction, and there will be stakeholder meetings in the near future,” stated the spokeswoman, who did not give dates for the meetings.

According to a Hardesty & Hannover engineering report from July 2015 obtained by the Bronx Times, the Unionport Bridge replacement project will take place in four stages over approximately 44 months.

“Two temporary fixed bridges over Westchester Creek will be utilized during a critical stage to maintain traffic flow and limit disruptions,” the report reads.

The temporary bridges will be used for a 60-day period, according to the report.

Councilman James Vacca forewarned motorists of delays on and around a bridge that is often jammed with traffic now.

“This is a multi-year renovation,” said the councilman of the project, adding “It is going to be an impediment to people getting to where they need to go.”

Community Board 10 district manager Kenneth Kearns said that the board had already requested that the traffic enforcement agents be assigned to Brush Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard, at the eastern foot of the bridge, to handle the westbound traffic backup that motorists experience currently.

While a recent request for traffic agents at that location was denied by NYPD, Kearns said that the board would make another request for a traffic enforcement agent detail as part of the city’s bridge rebuilding contract.

Local community activist and CB 10 member John Marano said that the board’s original request for traffic agents was to help ease the flow of traffic making turns from Brush Avenue onto the bridge.

He said that if motorists are driving from Throggs Neck, right now it can take about 15 minutes at peak times to travel on Lafayette Avenue, make a right onto Brush Avenue, and then drive roughly another block to make a left onto the bridge.

Traffic is backing up all the way to the Hutchinson River Parkway Service Road, he said, with many motorist making illegal U-turns.

“I feel that we need traffic agents for the everyday traffic that is there now, ” said Marano. “But with this Unionport Bridge project in front of us, there should definitely be traffic agents assigned to the intersection of Brush Avenue and the Bruckner Expressway service road.”

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.