Work begins on Westchester Avenue bridge

A bridge that carriers vehicular and train traffic on Westchester Avenue over the Hutchinson River Parkway will be rehabilitated and raised in a project that officially starts in July.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

A clearer picture is emerging of a major east Bronx bridge rehabilitation project.

The NYC Department of Transportation is beginning outreach, some of it required through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, on a project to reconstruct the span over the Hutchinson River Parkway at Westchester Avenue.

Active construction on a project will begin in July, according to DOT’s Division of Bridges.

Division representatives attended a public ULURP hearing at Community Board 10 on Tuesday, June 13.

The ULURP was required because of city map changes that are part of the five-year project to raise the current clearance from 10 feet, two inches to 12 feet, six inches, the legal minimum established by federal standards, according to DOT officials.

CB 10 voted unanimously to support the measure at the hearing, but only after raising questions about how much traffic on Waters Place and Westchester Avenue and subway service on the IRT 6 line, which is carried over the same bridge, would be affected.

Peter Sullivan, CB 10 Housing and Zoning Committee chairman and chairman-elect, said that in light of current construction on the Bronx-Whitestone and Throgs Neck bridges, he has traffic concerns in the short-term.

“(It’s) an issue because (the city) is doing everything at once,” said Sullivan referring to the other nearby projects, adding that replacement is nevertheless needed.

According to DOT, work on rehabilitation of the Westchester Avenue bridge is scheduled to continue through spring 2022, with construction scheduled for Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Occasional weekend and night work will also be required to remove and replace steel, according to a DOT presentation.

Matthew Cruz, CB 10 district manager, said that members of the board were concerned with the length of the project, which will last years.

“The board is concerned with overall congestion in the area,” he added, saying that they did not want the project to harm quality-of-life in the community.

John Marano, board member, said the fact that the bridge has been struck numerous times by oversized commercial vehicles that should not have been travelling on Hutchinson River Parkway, is telling.

Indeed, the primary reason for raising the bridge, and for the planned installation of a steel beam across the top of the southbound lane of the parkway that’s part of the project, are these frequent collisions, according previously published Bronx Times articles.

“Trucks don’t belong on the parkway; it is the law,” said Marano, adding “There is a law in place (and) it needs to be enforced.”

Marano believes that the penalty for driving commercial vehicles on parkways should be increased, and said frequent offenders should have their trucks “vouchered,” or impounded.

DOT has already removed parking from the bridge, and representatives at the June 13 hearing said that subway service would only be interrupted at night.

Water service may also be interrupted as the project calls for a water main addition.

Community Board 11 also held a hearing on the project, said district manager Jeremy Warneke, because it borders CB 10.

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

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