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Verrazano fix-up zoom$ along

The Brooklyn Paper

Money talks.

That is the message of one local pol after the recent announcement that a local construction project might actually be completed ahead of schedule.

Construction work on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, originally scheduled to be completed in March, 2009, will now be completed by next September, six months ahead of time — and it’s all because Rep. Vito Fossella (R-Bay Ridge) urged the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to add cash incentives into the rehab contract.

“I asked the MTA to add incentives because I was confident it could speed up the completion of this project,” said Fossella. “I am delighted the MTA followed up on my suggestion.”

The incentives prove the widely held adage that money matters. According to the MTA, the revised plan will add $6.2 million to the $58.8-million project, but the money will only be spent if the job really does get shortened from 21 to 15 months (barring extreme weather conditions).

The contractor will use this incentive to add additional workers for extra shifts, which is welcome to news to the already congested nearby communities.

“That is great,” said bridge commuter Mark Lillmars. “Now only if they lowered the toll, too, then I’d do a little dance.”

Construction began last June, when one lane in each direction on the Bridge was closed to allow for a rehab of the lower level exit ramp, the complete removal and reconstruction of the roadway, parapet wall and utilities, and rehabilitation of the steel beneath. Already, the work has led to congestion on the bridge that has spilled onto the streets of Bay Ridge.

The good news also comes as an unexpected relief for residents who have grown accustomed to expecting the worse from local construction projects, such as a water and sewer line project at 92nd Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway that was supposed to be completed in one year, but took 18 months, said Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10.

“And minor work continues [on that project] to this day,” she added.

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