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Bridge to stability: State finally fixes creaky Ridge span

Rattletrap no more: Construction crews finished replacing the surface of the once notoriously shaky 86th Street overpass above the Gowanus Expressway in Bay Ridge on Aug. 29 after working for three weeks on the $49 million state Department of Transportation project.
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Call it water under the bridge.

The state Department of Transportation finally replaced the surface of Bay Ridge’s notoriously shaky 86th Street overpass above the Gowanus Expressway, but Ridgites will have to deal with another month or so of detours while the agency finishes work on the structure. The transit agency completely replaced the more-than-50-year-old rattletrap’s “deck” — the surface vehicles drive on, above the bridge’s structural steel — because its old age called for an overhaul, according to a spokeswoman for the agency.

“The deck had reached its service life and needed to be replaced,” said Diane Park.

The exit ramp from the Staten Island-bound expressway to 86th Street, at Gatling Place, and the entrance ramp to the Manhattan-bound expressway on the other side of the bridge, at Dahlgren Place, were closed for three weeks while the agency installed 128 new precast concrete panels on the deck, Peck said. The expressway ramps reopened on Aug. 29, after the crew finished working up to twenty hours a day, seven days a week — including “in high heat and many rain showers” — to get the $49-million project done in less than a month, according to Peck.

Ridgites complained about the formerly shaky bridge for years — alleging that it shook when busses crossed and when trucks passed on the expressway below — and inundated the local Community Board 10 with complaints. The board first asked the city and state transportation agencies to look at the bridge nearly three years ago, and inspectors noted the bridge’s wear and tear but offered no explanation for the vibrations. The state originally promised the reconstruction would begin in 2017, but Peck did not respond to an inquiry by press time about what caused the delay.

Over the next month, Peck said there will be occasional lane closures on 86th Street as crews put finishing touches on the deck by grinding down leftover high strength concrete between the panels to produce a smooth finish, and then “striping” the deck by painting lane indicators at the end of the project, which she said they hope to complete by early fall.

Crews will also finish laying the bridge’s new concrete sidewalk and building the new adjacent wall, which they’ll top with a fence. And crews will install electrical and telephone utilities under the deck, which will require single lane closures on the Gowanus Expressway, between 10 am and 3 pm and 10 pm and 5 am, as well as double lane closures between 1 am and 5 am, Peck said.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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