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Hamilton Av bridge work all summer

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Construction on the Hamilton Avenue drawbridge, a vital Gowanus Canal span that carries traffic beneath the Gowanus Expressway from Park Slope to Carroll Gardens, has so far caused few traffic problems since beginning on June 30, even though half of the bridge’s eight driving lanes are closed.

The current roadwork, which is part of the Department of Transporta­tion’s $55-million reconstruction of the 65-year-old bridge, is scheduled to last through Labor Day.

The bridge transports an average of 45,000 vehicles a day across the canal, according to 2005 DOT figures.

With the entire northbound section of the 546-foot-long bridge closed for construction, the daily traffic flow has been reduced to two lanes in each direction on the southbound portion of the bridge, except during morning rush hour, when three lanes are made available for drivers heading towards Manhattan.

Despite what could have been a major upheaval, cars were moving steadily along the bridge in both directions during morning and evening rush hour last week.

“[It’s] pretty nice, actually,” said Traffic Agent Louis Ortiz, who arrived at 7 am last Monday and spent 12 hours directing traffic.

Next summer, the traffic pattern will shift to allow the reconstruction of the southbound portion of the bridge. The entire reconstruction project, which will widen traffic lanes among other improvements, is scheduled for completion in January, 2009 according to the DOT.

For now, any inconveniences suffered by motorists haven’t proved serious enough to merit complaint, according to Craig Hammerman, district manager for Community Board 6, which covers neighborhoods on both sides of the bridge.

“We would have heard by now if it was a major problem,” Hammerman said.

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