Bridge of sighs? New Kosciuszko could cost local jobs

John Iacono could lose his land under the Kosciuszko Bridge under a state plan.
The Brooklyn Paper / Kate Emerson

Replacing Greenpoint’s decaying Kosciuszko Bridge might make the roadway safer for drivers, but reconstructing the overpass could also displace more than a dozen local businesses from the shadow of the span.

In order to build a safer, wider and more modern bridge connecting Greenpoint and Queens, the state might relocate 15 properties — potentially dislocating some 180 workers — through its power of condemnation.

Workers won’t begin demolishing the old bridge until 2013, but state Department of Transportation officials will start negotiating to acquire properties in its footprint starting in two months, spokesman Adam Levine told The Brooklyn Paper.

Levine added that the state aims to keep the relocated Greenpoint businesses in Greenpoint.

“A lot of these businesses have employees who live locally … and we are doing everything we can to keep everybody within the neighborhood, and if not in the neighborhood, somewhere close by, and certainly within the borough,” he noted.

But some of the businesses directly below the traffic-choked truss bridge that carries the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway from Greenpoint to Maspeth, Queens, doubt the state will be able to find them another North Brooklyn location.

“It’s a disaster,” said John Iacono, operations manager at Citywide Demolition on Anthony Street, which maintains two yards in the shadow of the tongue-twisting bridge.

“We need the yards for work — there’s no other spaces around here,” he said.

If the state cannot find Citywide Demolition a new home for its yards in Greenpoint, Iacono said he might be forced to lay off workers.

“We employ 10 guys on those yards. If we close the yards, they ain’t going have a job,” he said.

The risk to local businesses is worth the reward to motorists, said Amy Cleary, a spokeswoman for state Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D–Greenpoint).

“Nobody wants to take anybody’s property by eminent domain — but the bottom line is that the bridge needs to be replaced,” said Cleary, who insisted that her office is fighting to keep local businesses in the neighborhood.

The Kosciuszko, infamous for its steep incline and decline, was built in 1939 to accommodate large ships passing below on the once-bustling Newtown Creek. The new plans call for a lower bridge that would provide drivers with more visibility and make it easier for trucks to maintain their speed, lessening traffic, according to transportation planners.

The $700-million proposal also calls for widening the roadway from six lanes to nine lanes and adding a walking path and bike lane to the span, which is named after the 18th-century Polish general who fought with the American colonists during the Revolutionary War.

The state also plans to build small parks, which will include boat launches into Newtown Creek, beside the new bridge. The creek is currently being considered for by federal officials for placement on the national “Superfund” list of toxic sites.

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