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Closed! Bklyn Bridge repairs cause fear and loathing in Heights

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The Brooklyn Bridge is getting the facelift — but Brooklyn Heights is getting the worry lines.

A mammoth renovation project that begins soon will close the Manhattan-bound lanes of the historic span at least 24 weekends and many weeknights, creating intense congestion as cars jam the Manhattan Bridge, the closest alternative.

“The traffic will increase tremendous­ly,” predicted Capt. Vanessa Kight, an executive officer at the 84th Precinct.

It’ll all start in June, when the Department of Transportation begins a $500-million project that includes a new paint job, deck resurfacing, and rehabilitation and widening of the bridge’s ramps and approaches — a project that promises to reduce congestion (eventually) for the 100,000 drivers who cross the span every day.

But until then, drivers will be detoured to the already packed intersection of Flatbush Avenue and Tillary Street to get to the Manhattan Bridge — which is expected to get 80 percent of the diverted vehicles.

The work is the first rehab for the bridge in two decades, sparked in part by a 2007 collapse of bridge in Minneapolis, where 13 people died. City officials have said that the bridge is structurally sound, but state inspectors rated components of the bridge as “poor” and in need of repair.

To start the project, agency contractors will blast away the existing coat of paint, swaddling the span with protective wrap to prevent the spread of lead particles. The potentially hazardous work will be heavily monitored by local, state and federal agencies.

After the paint is removed, a new coffee-colored coat will be slathered along the entire 126-year-old structure. The agency calls the paint “Queensboro­ugh tan,” an ironic moniker given the bridge was constructed a full 14 years before Queens officially became a borough.

The two-year paint job will be performed during the evenings and early mornings, when the bridge will be shuttered to Manhattan-bound traffic, forcing weary travelers to seek out alternative East River crossings — and flooding roads with additional traffic.

Traffic lanes will be closed on weeknights, beginning at 11 pm and ending at 6 am, and on Saturdays, from midnight to 7 am, and Sundays, from midnight to 9 am. During the day, expect single lane closures in each direction during off-peak hours. All six lanes will be open for rush hour.

During the four-year course of the overall project, the Manhattan-bound side of the bridge will be entirely off limits for up to 24 weekends.

The end result will be smoother travel along the span, with fully replaced approach roadways and the creation of two lanes of free-flowing traffic at the Cadman Plaza exit, and in Manhattan, two lanes created from the southbound FDR drive onto the bridge.

But tomorrow’s roadway pleasure could be today’s pain, residents said.

“Parking is already horrible,” said Heights dweller Kathlene Gates, who feared the area getting even more messy.

Green-friendly travelers have reason to rejoice at least: The aged span will not be closed to pedestrians or cyclists during the entirety of the project.

For an up to date schedule of closures e-mail brooklynbridgeoutreach@gmail.com or call (347) 646-0876.

— with Tony Cella

Updated 10:29 am, April 30, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

Paul A. Toomey from Bay Ridge/Ft. Hamilton says:
If the Symbol of Brooklyn needs a face lift & much needed resurfacing so be it.It will mean a shift in usual traffic and parking but it must be done.When the work is completed on the lane construction it should move the flow of traffic much faster on both sides of the bridge. Would the residents effected rather have the bridge become a eyesore & be declared unsafe? Improvement & maintenance will take time and inconvenience for all concerned residents and commuters Let's just hope time frame will be less than predicted.
April 28, 2010, 10:53 am
Bill Harris from boerum hill says:
Smile when you pay your city taxes!
April 28, 2010, 4:14 pm
Sid from boerum hill says:
Most of the money is coming from Federal funds. It can only be done faster if the Bridge was closed completely or during the day. If you think that the traffic at night will be bad imagine it closed during the day. The plan calls for keeping the Brooklyn bound side open at all times(which means that sometimes the Manhattan bound side will carry reverse traffic). The plan calls for widening the exit and entrance to the FDR in Manhattan to two full lanes. The contract contains incentives for the contractor to finish the construction early and penalties for over runs. The plan has been subject to neighborhood hearings(through the community board) and the entire plan is on the NYC DOT site. The plan actually is pretty well thought out with some(not enough) community involvement except for the people who want to —— now after the contract has already been signed.
April 28, 2010, 5:42 pm
kelly from park slope says:
I drive over the bridge several times a week, I hope they do something to alert us about the closures on a regular basis. What a drag this is going to be.
April 29, 2010, 11:14 am
Fourth Estate from DUMBO says:
This work is necessary. Unfortunately, our structures are not made to last very long and need to be constantly upgraded and repaired or risk collapse.
April 30, 2010, 9:53 am
Stella B from Brooklyn Heights says:
This is going to be very bad for Brooklyn Heights and the surrounding neighborhoods. I drive over the bridge at off- hours a lot too, mainly due to the modified subway schedules... which are very hard to keep track of! Now the bridge is going to have modified weekend schedules too! Help!
May 5, 2010, 6:44 am
stevie from dumbo says:
come on, quit yer whining
if it gets us over the bridge and onto the fdr quicker, its a good thing
this starts in june? when in june, story doesn't say
which 24 weekends?
need better reporting
May 5, 2010, 6:51 am
john says:
i say if the bridge needs repairs lets do them i meanno one wants the bridge to fall
March 1, 2011, 8:24 am
john says:
the bridge has been around for a long time so now would it be historical?
March 1, 2011, 8:26 am

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