More than $60 million has been spent to maintain the bridge over the last 20 years. Despite those stop-gap measures, however, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) reports increasing structural deficiencies.
Just over 70 years since the 1.1-mile bridge was built to connect Queens to Brooklyn in 1939, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and DOT have proposed a two-phase, $800 million plan to replace the bridge.
The proposed project calls for the construction of two new parallel bridges on the eastbound side of the existing bridge, and demolition of the existing structure following its completion.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney last week released a new report outlining the federal funds and benefits for repairing the structure. It shows the bridge is ranked the eighth worst state-owned in New York City, and following the bridge’s most recent inspection in October 2012, it was issued 49 “flags” (6 red and 43 yellow), 21 more than in 2008.
Red flags indicate structural deficiencies and call for immediate “corrective measures,” while yellow flags identify less severe structural problems, often related to issues affecting the bridge’s long-term durability.
“Commuters want safety and convenience,” said Maloney, standing under the bridge last week with a number of elected officials from both sides of the span. “No one wants to see what happened in Washington State last week happen in New York.”
In 2012, Kosciuszko Bridge also received a 3.53 rating from the state, down from a 3.91 in 2009. Anything less than a five rating is considered deficient.
The new nine-lane bridge, including new bike lanes and pedestrian walkway, will bring in roughly 1,200 full-time construction jobs and over 14,000 jobs over the next seven years. The project has an estimated completion date of 2020.
“We must find additional resources in Washington and Albany to make sure other necessary investments in our aging infrastructure are not deferred,” said Denise Richardson, managing director of the General Contractors Association. “Our economic future literally rides on it.”
Over 160,000 motorists use the bridge daily, and heavy traffic and accidents are all too common.
“This is a project that is long overdue,” said Assemblyman Joseph Lentol. “I know that it’s going to displace a lot of people in Greenpoint, but we’ll have to live through it for the greater good. This will revive not only the economic vitality of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, but of the entire city as well.”