Bridge, Catch Basins
Pondered At CB 1 Cabinet
By Thomas Cogan
The latest report on Triborough Bridge reconstruction and reports on catch basin maintenance and impending street resurfacing were highlights of the year’s first meeting of the Community Board 1 district cabinet, held in the commissary of Kaufman Astoria Studios. A discussion of non-functioning street lighting was not officially planned but was brought up at the meeting by several local residents made angry by a series of dead street lamps.
Frank Pascual, public affairs director of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bridges and Tunnels division, reviewed the latest news about the Triborough Bridge project. This is part of a grand rebuilding program for various bridges that was begun in 1997 and is due to last until 2015. Pascual began by passing around a half dozen color photographs of the Triborough project and saying that one reason the job is taking so long is that it may be done only in the daytime (though one of the pictures was a night shot). He also displayed a progress chart and said that one of the key parts of the project was replacement of the cement roadbed, in place since the bridge was opened in 1936. The new roadbed will be steel. Being lighter than the old one, it will place less stress on the bridge’s cables. Early in the project a detour lane was constructed that allowed shutdown of a normal lane so it could be refurbished. The detour lane may now be a permanent one, Pascual said. Painting of the towers battleship gray will begin in the spring, on the Wards Island side.
Board 1 District Manager George Delis said that trucks coming from the bridge into Astoria still have a noisy and difficult exit, and he wondered if this problem could be alleviated by lowering the roadbed some six inches. Pascual told him only that the question should be addressed to the Department of Transportation. C. Peter Goslett, DOT Queens community affairs director, who was also at the meeting to make a report, said that shaving a roadbed by even a seemingly small six inches, was no easy thing. To one woman’s inquiry about when all the construction equipment would be gone from Hoyt Avenue so normal parking could be resumed, Pascual estimated that the main work would be done by July, though some equipment would remain in place for whatever small work remained to be done.
Dimitri Poulos of the city Department of Environmental Protection reported on the latest cleanup of local catch basins, a project that is carried out every three years. There are 2,940 catch basins within the confines of Board 1 and more than 1,500 of them had been cleaned since the latest round was begun on September 29. Particular problems encountered include flooding in the basement of 114th Precinct headquarters, 34-16 Astoria Blvd. The problem is unpleasant because flooding brings a great deal of sewage into the building. Poulos said the foundation of the 114th Precinct’s building, which was opened in 1973, must be excavated before any relief can be expected.
Goslett said that seven local roadways are soon to be resurfaced: 32nd Street between Northern Boulevard and 30th Avenue; 33rd Street between Northern and Astoria Boulevards; both 36th and 35th streets between Northern Boulevard and 36th Avenue; 35th Street between Broadway and 48th Street; 10th Street between 35th and 41st Avenues; and Ditmars Boulevard between Hazen and 41st Streets.
It was Goslett’s lot to hear about the many Astoria street lights that aren’t working, since street lighting, whether on the streets or in the parks, is within DOT’s purview. He said the unfortunate situation in Astoria has come about because of a contractor’s blunder. The contractor was hired on a New York state project to install electrical signage for the instruction of drivers on local highways. In the course of installation, damage was committed that darkened many street lights. This is a state problem and not DOT’s responsibility, Goslett said. That answer got him a plethora of gripes from several persons in the room.
Goslett, who is recovering from joint replacement surgery, maintained his equanimity, though, and was soon answering a question about angle parking. Delis said angle parking would alleviate the parking situation on 27th Avenue between 1st and 8th Streets if the practice could be instituted there, as it soon will be on 12th Street between 34th and 36th Avenues. Goslett said that a street must be at least 50 feet wide to be eligible for angle parking. He explained that widening 27th Avenue to 50 feet would require cutting into public housing sidewalk for a few blocks, which could be done only with the permission of the New York City Housing Authority.
Another announcement came from Elaine Zessi of HANAC, the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee. She promoted a Lead Outreach Meeting, to be held Thursday, January 29, 6:30 to 8 p.m. at I.S. 204, 36-41 28th St. The meeting will feature discussions about lead and its common uses; where lead may be found in the home; common causes of lead poisoning, and laws governing lead paint and safe working practices.
Susan Scannell, executive producer of the Astoria Performing Arts Center, said she had her eye on an empty building at Broadway and Vernon Boulevard as a site for a community theater. Upon inquiring at the meeting about the building’s status, however, she found her vision might not be feasible. She was informed the building had been the home of Nelson Galvanizing, and years of heavy industry use have left it contaminated. Any new owner would have to clean up the premises and would be perpetually responsible for the tainted material that was unearthed. "Bummer!" was Scannell’s only response.