Briarwood Construction End Date Pushed Back

BY JOE MARVILLI
Staff Writer

Briarwood residents will have to wait a little longer for their streets and subway to return to normal.

The reconstruction of the Briarwood-Van Wyck F train station entrance has been pushed back from the end of 2013 to March 2014, due to the discovery of lead paint. The renovation of the subway entrance, along with the installation of an elevator, is happening alongside a major project to improve traffic conditions on the Van Wyck Expressway.

The original completion date for the subway entrance was listed as Sept. 2013. It was then pushed back to Dec. 2013 due to design changes. However, lead paint in the pedestrian tunnel has to be removed before the area is safe to open, moving the timetable to next March.

The subway work was bid on and won by Ecco, for $9.9 million. This price tag included all of the work associated with moving the passageway, rebuilding the entrances, excavation, the new elevator and more. The cost has increased by about $1.7 million due to changes in field conditions and materials used. The lead paint removal added another $300,000 to the total.

“When completed, the subway entrance will be enhanced with new lighting, which will enhance safety and improve aesthetics,” Beau Duffy, director of communications at the State Dept. of Transportation, said. “The project will deliver to the community a much improved pedestrian access to the subway.”

The subway entrance is part of the State DOT’s Kew Gardens Interchange Reconstruction, which is made of two separate contracts and is due to be completed in 2016.

The first contract started in the summer of 2010 and is rebuilding a half-mile section of the Van Wyck Expressway south of the interchange between Union Turnpike and Hillside Avenue. Auxiliary lanes are being added to the Van Wyck to ease the flow of traffic in both directions when it meets the Grand Central Parkway. This intersection between the two major thoroughfares often experiences significant congestion. Additionally, the quarter-mile section of Queens Boulevard that runs over the expressway is being renovated. The cost of this contact is about $151 million.

The second contract started in the spring of 2012, and advances the reconstruction of the Van Wyck north another three-quarter of a mile, to 72nd Avenue. The northbound two-lane viaduct of the expressway will be replaced with a three-lane version that includes shoulders. The ramp connecting the westbound Jackie Robinson Parkway and Union Turnpike with the northbound Van Wyck will be broadened from one lane to two. This contract will cost about $113 million.

The reconstruction project has created a traffic snarl on Queens Boulevard. According to Duffy, the State DOT has taken actions to minimize the damage. Working in accordance with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Drivers First initiative, the work is being done in five stages that will allow two lanes of traffic in each direction on the boulevard to remain open throughout the project. A large amount of the demolition work and the erection work for the new bridges will be done overnight.

The agency is working with the City DOT to adjust the traffic signals to match the increased traffic. The new traffic patterns are also designed to allow for continued parking access to the businesses on the north side of Queens Boulevard near Main Street. Sings, striping and lighting will help guide vehicles as well.

“This project will bring tremendous permanent benefits to the traveling public in terms of safety, better traffic flow and infrastructure improvements,” Duffy said.

Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, jmarvilli@queenstribune.com, or @Joey788.