Quick(er) fix for Verrazano

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Repairs of the Staten Island–bound lanes of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge could be completed before July 4, two months earlier than expected and more than a year ahead of schedule, state officials announced this week.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority offered contractors a $600,000 incentive to finish replacing approach ramps to the 43-year-old bridge’s lower deck before Independence Day — a holiday that Bay Ridge politicians say can’t come soon enough.

“The back-up in Bay Ridge has been a nightmare,” said Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge). “But [the May 28] announcement is a positive development for both Staten Island and Brooklyn.”

Construction on the $64.7-million project began in June of 2006, when workers closed one lane in each direction to repair a lower level exit ramp, creating a traffic jam that clogged Bay Ridge thoroughfares and brought Third and Fifth avenues to a standstill.

“We saw traffic backed up in the streets in not just in Bay Ridge, but also in Bensonhurst and Sunset Park,” said state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), who claimed that one resident told him that a pizzeria wouldn’t deliver because of the traffic.

After elected officials pressured the MTA, the agency offered contractors a $6.2-million incentive last summer, advancing the projected date of completion to this September.

Mild winter weather allowed workers to work even faster — and it now looks like the job will be done before the worst summer traffic hits the legendary 4,260-foot span.

Work on the Brooklyn-bound lanes, which started later, will be completed by Labor Day, the MTA said.

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