Westchester Ave. bridge reconstruction starts

Westchester Ave. bridge reconstruction starts
Arthur Cusano

Efforts to make The Westchester Avenue overpass that crosses the Hutchinson River Parkway safer are underway after years of complaints and accidents.

Work to raise the bridge ceiling to prevent large trucks from hitting it has begun, and overnight lane closures were scheduled to run through Friday, May 5, according to the NYC Department of Transportation.

The closures were in effect from the East Tremont exit to the Pelham Parkway east exit.

One travel lane will remain open at all times.

“The Westchester Avenue Bridge rehabilitation project is in place in order to maintain a state of good repair, as well as address substandard vertical clearance and reduce the occurrence of future bridge strikes,” a DOT spokesperson said. “The contractor received a notice to proceed in August of 2016 and we anticipate completion in the fall of 2021.”

The project first announced in April of 2016, will result in a complete replacement of the Westchester Avenue overpass, raising the clearance on the parkway from 9 to 11 feet to at least 12 feet, six inches.

The plan also includes adding a right turn lane onto Waters Place at the southbound Westchester Avenue exit off the parkway.

The bridge has been the scene of numerous accidents over the years caused by errant trucks traveling on the Hutchinson River Parkway failing to properly account for the height of their vehicle or a trailer, which would collide with the bottom of the bridge.

Community Board 10 president Martin Prince said he had just received a notice of certification on one part of the ongoing project about changing the grade of the bridge and the roadway at Westchester Avenue between Waters Place and the eastbound Hutchinson River Parkway.

“They want to lower some of the road and raise some of the bridge to try and prevent accidents and damage that occurs from trucks that roll under there,” Prince said.

The work will require an official map change, he said, which will require a public hearing in CB10 and the adjacent Community Board 11.

That public hearing will be scheduled in the coming weeks.

However there is concern the ongoing project will add to the area’s already robust traffic headaches.

Councilman James Vacca said he was concerned about the increased traffic the project will bring.

Vacca has been a vocal critic of the current street setup, which results in heavy traffic on both the bridge and nearby side roads.

The nearby Hutchinson Metro Center and the new city 911 Call Center have also added to road congestion in the area.

“There are a series of projects causing gridlock in our neighborhood and this construction will only make it worse,” he said. “The city needs to get their act together and come up with a plan to mitigate the inconvenience.”

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.