2000-01-19 / Front Page

Bids Accepted Next Week For BQE Rehab Project

By Linda Wilson

Reconstruction of a 2.85-kilometer stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway from Broadway to 25th Avenue will be opened for bid on Jan 20th, according to Jim Wilson of the state Department of Transportation. Wilson, who with colleagues from his agency and representatives of Kronheim and Ketcham, the design firm for the project, has come before numerous community boards and civic organizations to discuss the details of the project in the neighborhoods affected by it since plans were announced several years ago, said the bid opening date met the project schedule. "In October there was some question if we were sticking to the schedule," he said. "But we're moving forward according to plan."

After the bids are let, in engineering parlance, the low bidder for the project will be determined and after an investigation and review of the bidder's qualifications, a process which should take between 45 days and two months, Wilson said, the contract for the project will be officially awarded. "Construction should start within 10 days to two weeks after the contract is awarded," Wilson said. He estimates construction on the roadway should start in the first week of April. The rehabilitation project is expected to be completed in April 2004.

Photo Tony Barsamian

Incorporated in the design is the first urban highway interchange to be constructed in New York City and improvement of the interchange of the BQE with Northern Boulevard.

 

The stretch of the 50-year-old roadway to undergo rehabilitation and reconstruction runs through parts of Woodside and Jackson Heights. Janice Youvan of Kronheim and Ketcham said that her firm and the state DOT had met with Community Boards 1 and 3 to discuss the project and its impact on the affected communities and was scheduling a meeting with Community Board 2. "So far, we've had a very positive response," she said.

The roadway, which was constructed in the late 1940s and early 1950s, is nearing the end of its service life. Its reconstruction and realignment will result in a roadway that meets current highway design standards and is capable of carrying traffic well into the 21st century. The project includes reconstruction of19 bridges and 5,500 meters of retaining walls and realignment of the CSX Railroad tracks. Incorporated in the design is the first urban highway interchange to be constructed in New York City and improvement of the interchange of the BQE with Northern Boulevard, according to the project description provided by the state DOT.

Travel lanes on the expressway will be widened to 3.6 meters and usable shoulders will be provided on both sides of the roadway. Pavement will be replaced and new lighting, signage and drainage systems will be installed. Bridges will be reconstructed to support the improved geometry of the roadway. Retaining walls near the bridges and elsewhere will be repaired, rebuilt or added, as the situation calls for. During the four-phase reconstruction project, existing traffic on the BQE existing traffic on the roadway will be maintained. Local street construction will necessitate detours of local street traffic at times during the reconstruction project, but no long-term detours of highway traffic onto local streets will be required. Much of the work will be conducted at night to keep disruption of traffic to a minimum.

As part of the project, four noise barriers will be emplaced along the traffic corridor and landscaping and wall treatment will enhance the aesthetics of the site. Among the aesthetic improvements planned is a mural to be placed along a retaining wall at Northern Boulevard, Youvan said. Artist Wopo Holup has been commissioned to design the mural and will start working on the design in greater detail than the prototype that earned her the commission. The design will be sent to a fabricator who will etch it into the retaining wall. The process is expected to take as long as the highway reconstruction project and to be finished and ready to install by the same April 2004 completion date.

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