Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bridges over a troubled parkway have residents singing the blues

by John DeSio

These days, the words "bridge construction" make Riverdalians recoil in horror, and rightfully so.
With that in mind, representatives of the City Department of Transportation stopped by the neighborhood this past week to assure anyone who would listen that two planned bridge revamps will move much more smoothly than those of the past.
The meeting kicked off with a presentation by the DOT, illustrating what the City would undertake during the "component rehabilitation" of two Riverdale bridges, one at West 246th Street and the other at Riverdale Avenue and West 254th Street, both over the Henry Hudson Parkway.
Unlike other ongoing bridge constructions in Riverdale that have snarled traffic for years, these two projects are not complete rebuilds. Instead, the DOT will renovate only the existing structures, a process they estimate will take eight months.
At the meeting, the DOT asked for the blessing of the community board to run both construction jobs at the same time, which they said would make each project more manageable.
"This is vastly different," said Anthony Perez Cassino, chairman of the community board's traffic and transportation committee, which hosted the meeting. "Those were complete reconstructions."
At both bridges the DOT plans to construct a new concrete bridge deck, repave the roadways approaching the bridge, repair the site's chain link barriers, repair concrete under the deck and repoint the bridges' fascia and wingwalls.
At the Riverdale Avenue bridge, the DOT also plans to repair the sidewalk.
Both projects will proceed in multiple phases, and the bridges will be open to traffic throughout construction. If the work can begin in October, the DOT expects to be able to complete it by the summer of 2009.
Still, those at the meeting had a number of questions about the plans. Robert Press asked whether the Bx20 bus would still be able to turn at West 246th Street during the construction. Committee member Saul Scheinbach expressed concern that the construction might interfere with the operation of Engine 52 Ladder 52, the firehouse located on the Henry Hudson Parkway. Another committee member, Bill Stone, asked how local residents would be notified of the construction.
But one way or another the plan will move forward, and the main issue at the meeting was whether or not it would be appropriate to run both projects at the same time. The mood of the room indicated support for the projects to run simultaneously.
The full Community Board #8 will take up the issue at its October general meeting.
Connie Moran, the Bronx Borough DOT commissioner, also gave a status report on the ongoing construction of the West 252nd Street bridge, which has become a running joke among Riverdale residents for its seemingly never-ending work.
Several months ago Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz held a press conference to note that construction on the small span is taking longer than construction on the Whitestone Bridge.
Moran said that the work is moving along and would be substantially completed by the end of December.