2001-04-04 / Front Page

Queens Boulevard Bridge Rebuild Starts Headaches

By John Toscano

Queens Boulevard Bridge
Rebuild Starts Headaches


Photo Alfredo Petersen The reasons for the rebuilding were the bridge’s age, weather erosion and increased traffic on the always crowded span.Photo Alfredo Petersen The reasons for the rebuilding were the bridge’s age, weather erosion and increased traffic on the always crowded span.

An 18-month traffic headache started Monday for thousands of motorists as a $40.8 million rebuilding of the Queens Boulevard Bridge over the Sunnyside Yards in Long Island City got underway.

The 91-year-old span, the section of Queens Boulevard which runs between Skillman and Jackson Avenues, is a major connector for motorists going and coming from the Queensborough Bridge (also known as the 59th Street Bridge).

During construction, the bridge will be partially open for Manhattan-bound cars. But the bridge will not be available for cars coming into Queens and drivers will have to take a detour route. Department of Transportation (DOT) officials said the route to Queens would be the upper level of the Queensborough Bridge.

Traffic Department Commissioner Iris Weinshall, announcing the start of the project, said, "Whenever we launch projects of this magnitude, we know communities can be inconvenienced, particularly during the start."

But, she added, the DOT is posting clear detour signs and traffic agents will be posted at key locations to help prevent traffic tie-ups.

Weinshall said the reasons for the rebuilding were the bridge’s age, weather erosion and increased traffic on the always crowded span. The work will include reconstruction of concrete abutments, bent crash walls and steel piers. New sidewalks with separated walkways and bike lanes will be included in the project, to be done by Perini Construction.

Drivers coming into Queens on the lower level of the Queensborough Bridge must follow this detour route:

•Take Crescent or 27th Street or Jackson Avenue southbound to 44th Drive/Thomson Avenue eastbound to Queens Boulevard.

•Eastbound traffic going to the northeast section of Queens take Northern Boulevard.

A DOT official said the bridge would be rebuilt one half at a time so that two lanes of Queens Plaza-bound or Manhattan-bound traffic could be accommodated. These open lanes will make the time added to the Manhattan commute insignificant.

The delays for drivers coming off the Queensborough Bridge into Queens will be greater because of the detours.

Traffic cameras will monitor the traffic and make changes in traffic patterns as required. Motorists will be informed of the changes simultaneously on electronic message boards.

Certain buses will also be rerouted and bus stops will be moved as necessary.

Weinshall also announced that the long-closed Honeywell Street Bridge connecting Skillman Avenue and Northern Boulevard will be rebuilt at a cost of $31.8 million. The commissioner said that Borough President Claire Shulman had recommended that the project be done to help traffic flow.

City Councilmember Walter McCaffrey (D-Woodside) expressed concern that residents of Sunnyside and the Queens Plaza section on either side of the project site might face some disturbance from the project.

McCaffrey declared: "This bridge has not been well maintained for many years and now there are going to be consequences. We’re particularly concerned about traffic backing into Sunnyside with the loss of one Manhattan-bound lane."


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