Get ready for years of closures and delays on and around the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.
The state transportation department is gearing up for at least five years of work to build two new, side-by-side bridges that are set to replace the Kosciuszko Bridge. The closures have started and will affect 11 blocks and a park, according to the agency. A roads spokeswoman said the footprint is not huge, considering the scale of the job.
“When you think about the extent of the project, it is really only affecting a very small area,” Diane Park said.
Cherry Street closed between Porter and Scott avenues a few weeks ago as the state prepares to begin construction in the spring. Despite the supposed imminent start of construction, Park said that the bridges’ design has not been finalized. Work crews have also taken over Sgt. William Dougherty Park on Vandervoort Avenue, and are supposed to use it to store construction vehicles and materials at least until 2019.
Starting sometime in the coming year, the Williamsburg-bound side of Meeker Avenue is set to close for at least six months between Apollo and Sutton streets, while a lane of the Newtown-Creek-bound side is set to close between Kingsland and Porter avenues. Vandervoort is also set to close between Meeker and Anthony Street, at a time yet to be announced. Park did not say whether the on- and off-ramps at the foot of the bridge would be affected.
The state is planning to build the bridges in two phases, first by constructing a Queens-bound span beside the Queens-bound side of the existing bridge. That work is set to wrap in 2017. Then, the transportation department says it will tear down the existing bridge and build a Brooklyn-bound span in its footprint. That work is supposed to take until 2020, and while it is underway, traffic is supposed to run in both directions on what will become the Queens-bound bridge.
A Greenpointer said that the road closures are a necessary evil.
“It will be annoying for a while, but the old bridge cannot last forever, so we have to deal with it,” Joe Mosely said.
The redo will move the footprint of the Newtown Creek crossing slightly, opening up space that is currently under the overpass along the Williamsburg-bound side of Meeker Avenue. The state plans to hold a series of community meetings to brainstorm ideas about what should become of the new plots.