Thursday, August 14, 2008

252nd Street overpass: A bridge too far, a project too long delayed

by Anna Joseph
Riverdale Review, 08/14/2008

A Riverdale overpass has taken longer to renovate than it took to build the Whitestone Bridge, according to Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz.

On Tuesday, the assemblyman criticized the City's lengthy construction time, publicly demanding a speedier conclusion to the work on the overpass at West 252nd Street and Henry Hudson Parkway East, in front of Christ Church,

They are going to take a full three years,” Dinowitz complained. “I wanted to highlight this to the attention of the community, that this is taking a ridiculously long time." He added, "The longer something takes, the more it tends to raise costs, so what I’m hoping to do is bring attention to this in the hopes that perhaps the City will find a way to be quicker and act more efficiently. The important part is that it’s an eyesore, it costs a lot of money, and it causes inconvenience.”

The restoration on the approximately 100-foot-long overpass, which began on January 3, 2006, has thus far taken more than two and a half years. The 3770-foot Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, a suspension bridge across the East River, took 23 months to complete and was opened on April 29,1939, two months ahead of schedule.

It just shows what an amazing contrast there is,” said Dinowitz, “between the construction here and the construction of an enormous suspension bridge."

Perhaps the comparison is unfair. The Whitestone was built during the Great Depression, a time when the City gave job-creating public works high priority. In fact, renovations to the Whitestone that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority started in 2001—which have caused traffic congestion—are not yet completed either.

The 252nd Street renovations have closed the westbound lane since the project began.

Con Ed's power cable upgrade project has also caused transportation trouble for many. “We get complaints to our office about building construction and the Con Ed project. The problem is that all of these things are happening at once,” explained Dinowitz. “If you look at the overall picture, many factors are coming together to make Riverdale grind to a halt."

Referring to the overpass, he added, "This is an unnecessary factor, because we should have been done a long time ago. This should have been completely done before the Con Ed project started. I think what people in the community should do is express their disgust at the ridiculous length of this project. Frankly I’m sick of it.”

The Department of Transportation, which planned the completion of the overpass in April, 2008, was unavailable for comment as of press time.