By Jon Cronin, Editor
The state Department of Transportation presented updates on Monday regarding possible new lanes for the Van Wyck Expressway, the final phase of the Kew Gardens Interchange and rehab of three bridges on the Long Island Expressway and Grand Central Parkway to the Queens Borough Board.
Harold Fink, the deputy chief engineer, said that the Van Wyck Expressway’s new lanes—one north and one south—in between the Kew Gardens Interchange and John F. Kennedy International Airport are in the beginning stages of public engagement. The DOT held a scoping meeting with the public in Jamaica in September. Last week, the DOT presented to Community Board 10 and plans to engage Community Boards 5, 6, 8, 9 and 12 in the future.
Betty Braton, chairwoman of Community Board 10, said at the meeting that if a new lane is added on the Van Wyck Expressway, a sound-deadening system should be put into place as the expressway is made larger and traffic will be closer to the residential streets. Fink said that the agency would look into the proposal.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz asked if it would shorten the time it took to travel north on the expressway. Fink noted that there are many factors involved in the changes, primarily among them is the study and revamping of the on and exit ramps to the Van Wyck, which he said are often too short to accelerate and effectively merge into traffic.
Fink added that 20 bridges in the 4.3 miles will have to be rebuilt to accommodate the extra lanes.
He added that phase four of the Kew Gardens Interchange project will ease the traffic at the connections of the Van Wyck Expressway, Grand Central Parkway and Jackie Robinson Parkway. It will begin in September 2018.
Fink said that this phase of the project will be the most difficult as the roadways that the DOT are changing were designed in the 1930s. The project will improve connections between the parkways and Union Turnpike as well as improve alignments, stop sight distances and shoulder the width and geometry of the roadways. He noted that 11 bridges will be rebuilt and the overall cost of phase four will be between $300 million and $400 million.
The rehabilitation of three bridges on the LIE at the Grand Central Parkway Interchange started in 2015. Fink reported that it will end in the summer of 2018. The project is replacing and widening the bridges to close the existing open area between the LIE mainline and the westbound and eastbound roads. It is also creating shoulders on the LIE bridges to improve traffic flow westbound by creating two lanes for the Grand Central Parkway and adding a lane between the exits to 108th Street and Junction Boulevard.