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An inside job: City will cut open triple cantilever for first time ever!

Pay up: Councilman Steve Levin says the state must help pay for the reconstruction of the decaying Brooklyn-Queens Expressway before someone gets hurt.
Photo by Nicole Lewis

Drill, baby, drill!

The city will cut into the decrepit three-tiered section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Brooklyn Heights for the first time since it built the structure almost 70 years ago, uncovering just how crummy things are in there before it starts doing repairs, according to Department of Transportation bigwigs.

“We have to get inside it,” said Bob Collyer, the city’s Deputy Commissioner of Bridges, at a public meeting about the fix-up on Wednesday. “Until we get in there, we have no way of knowing what the real condition of the BQE is.”

In the coming weeks, workers will cut 3-by-3-foot holes into the wall at 20–24 locations along the stretch from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street, Collyer said, then squeeze inside amongst the cobwebs, rats, and god knows what else.

Until now, the agency has only seen 20 percent of the so-called triple cantilever bridge that runs underneath the Heights Promenade, since the original plans don’t show any way to get inside, he said.

But the need to understand the whole ugly truth is now urgent, as the city is being called out to patch up perilous parts of the roadway more and more frequently, Collyer said.

“It’s getting to be more and more prevalent,” he said. “We’re getting more and more flags.”

The agency will fix anything dangerous it finds inside straight away, one senior official said, but honchos don’t expect to come across anything so extreme that they have to close it immediately.

But the in-depth inspection is just the start of the lengthy triple cantilever reconstruction process, which will eventually require the city to reroute the 140,000-odd drivers who use the span each day somewhere else, and could take anywhere from five to 13 years to complete.

Last night, late-night work on the triple-cantilever forced Brooklyn Paper Editor-in-Chief Vince DiMiceli to get off at Tillary Street and drive through the streets of Downtown, Cobble Hill, and Carroll Gardens, before getting back on the highway at the Battery Tunnel. That drive was necessary because DiMiceli gave members of his senior staff a ride home after they all enjoyed a delicious, post-deadline dinner at Cafe LuLuc on Smith Street.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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