BY JON CRONIN
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced last week that the state would implode two large sections of the 77-year-old Kosciuszko Bridge this summer.
According to the state Department of Transportation, the implosion will mark the beginning of Phase II of the long-term replacement project in May. This would bring the project seven months ahead of schedule and move up the opening of the Brooklyn-bound bridge four years ahead of schedule to early 2020.
Cuomo said that traffic would be moved over from the old bridge to the first span, which would become the Queens-bound side, in early spring 2017.
“The design-build team responsible for the project will implode the current Brooklyn and Queens approaches, which total roughly three-quarters of a mile,” according to the state DOT.
The agency added that the main span would be cut and removed separately to prevent parts of the bridge from dropping into Newtown Creek, which borders Long Island City and Brooklyn. A detailed “engineering and vibration analysis” was conducted to ensure environmental safety of the implosion.
Once the existing bridge is removed, the Brooklyn-bound bridge would be constructed in its place during Phase II. In the interim, the Queens-bound side would be wide enough to carry three lanes of Brooklyn-Queens Expressway traffic in each direction.
“New York is recapturing the bold ambition that made this the Empire State in the first place, and accelerating construction of the new Kosciuszko Bridge is the latest example of how we are growing and innovating,” the governor said.
The $555 million first phase of the project, which consisted of the Queens-bound bridge and removal of the existing bridge, was the largest single contract that the state DOT has ever undertaken.
“It is an engineering masterpiece that will enhance safety and reduce traffic congestion, improving quality of life for people living in the surrounding communities,” said Matthew J. Driscoll, the commissioner of the state DOT.
The agency said that the Queens-bound bridge will carry five lanes of traffic and a separate Brooklyn-bound bridge will carry four lanes. There will be a 20-foot-wide bikeway/walkway featuring views of Manhattan. Both bridges will have shoulders, which neither had before.
An issue that has long been plaguing Queens neighborhoods, such as Maspeth, near the Kosciuszko is traffic from trucks that cannot handle the current incline on the bridge. The new incline would be “lowered by approximately 35 feet, making it easier for trucks and other large vehicles to maintain consistent speeds on the bridge,” according to the DOT.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin.