BY DOMENICK RAFTER
Editor in Chief
After more than two years of work, the 3rd Avenue exit on the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge has finally reopened.
Part of a massive reconstruction of the 76-year-old span, the exit closed in January 2013 to allow for the $109 million Queens phase of the bridge reconstruction. That work included replacement of the suspended span decks, and complete replacement of the Queens approach roadways.
The new structure features wider 12-foot roadway lanes and safety shoulders. Work involved demolition and reconstruction of 1,010 feet of all six Queens approach roadway lanes; relocation of the old Francis Lewis Park playground beneath the bridge to a grassy area within the park, with all new playground equipment; and rehabilitation of the Third Avenue exit ramp.
In addition to rehabilitating the exit ramp with a new riding surface, new drainage, striping and lighting, MTA Bridges and Tunnels added several safety modifications to the ramp, including new traffic safety crash cushions, mountable curbs and a new guiderail.
The closure required traffic to be detoured onto 14th Avenue in Whitestone for the duration of the project. Last month, State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), criticized the MTA, noting that the agency had planned a two-year closure of the exit, but it had gone beyond that time frame.
“Today is a joyous occasion for the residents of Whitestone and College Point as the 3rd Avenue Exit is finally accessible once again,” Avella said in a statement last Friday. “While it was closed, commuters suffered the burden that the construction brought to their neighborhoods and have waited for two years now for this work to come to an end. Now that the improvements have finally been made, it is time for the people of Northeast Queens to be able to enjoy them.”
Last month, the City Department of Transportation announced it would install bollards and other traffic calming devices on the exit ramp to deter speeding as part of Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan.
Work on the bridge reconstruction began on the Bronx side in 2008. The MTA says there is only “minor work” left to be done on the Queens side.