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Historic Carroll Street Bridge to get $1 million in FEMA aid for Sandy damage

Federal aid: The Carroll Street Bridge (which is now fully painted blue) faced extreme flooding from Hurricane Sandy and will receive more than $1 million in federal funding for super storm-related repairs.
Photo by Tom Callan

The historic Carroll Street Bridge suffered the indignity of being submerged in disgusting Gowanus Canal waters during Hurricane Sandy, and now the city’s only active wood-planked movable bridge will receive more than $1 million in federal disaster aid so it can get a well-deserved bath.

Cash from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will go directly to the city’s Department of Transportation to restore the 124-year-old span over the canal. The trapezoid-shaped, landmarked overpass suffered severe damage as surges from the Oct. superstorm left the bridge under several feet of water.

“Superstorm Sandy ravaged Brooklyn’s Carroll Street Bridge with flooding of up to 30 inches above the deck,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D–Park Slope) in a statement. “I ride my bike over this bridge all the time; it is a vital link between the Slope and Carroll Gardens and beyond. I am pleased to announce this much-needed funding to restore this landmark, retractile bridge to its pre-storm condition so that Brooklynites, like myself, can continue to utilize it.”

The bridge has been closed to cars, bicycles, and pedestrians for at least three more months. It’s undergoing a $600,000 repair project that was scheduled prior to Sandy. The current project includes replacing some decking, restoring the expansion joints, sidewalk repairs, and cleaning and painting the structural steel. It does not repair storm-damaged bridge components, said Department of Transportation spokesman Nick Mosquera.

The $1,600,141 in Federal Emergency Management Agency funds will be used to replace electrical and hydraulic equipment battered by Sandy “in order to make the bridge operable for marine traffic,” said Mosquera.

“This project is in the initial design phase and no work schedule has been determined,” said the agency spokesman. The 17-foot-wide, 107-foot-long bridge is currently in the open position.

The rare retractile bridge rolls back horizontally on wheels set on steel rails to make room for passing boats. It’s a symbol of the area’s industrial past and one of an estimated four remaining bridges of its kind left in the country.

The historic city signage on top of the roadway that states “any person driving over this bridge faster than a walk will be subject to a penalty of five dollars for each offense,” will be preserved throughout the completion of the projects, said Mosquera.

The approach to the bridge from both directions also has signs ordering two-wheelers to dismount and walk bicycles across the bridge, a rule that still applies, but is one that bicyclists rarely follow.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.

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