Parts of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge are being used as a staging area for Department of Transportation Belt Parkway bridge reconstructions — making it look like a containment area for a certain oil rig explosion.
Grimy sand and floating containment barriers etch the marine landscape below Paerdegat Basin bridge. But agency officials say all is smooth sailing while the DOT reconstructs seven bridges along the 71-year-old Belt Parkway, and stores its construction materials and vehicles along the banks of one of the most important urban wildlife refuges in the United States instead of on the street.
“We have periodic field inspections and monitor the water,” said Dave Avrin, chief of resources for Gateway National Recreation Area, which is managed by the federal park service. “We expect the DOT to follow the best management practices.”
One of the staging areas is located on the Canarsie Circle, near the eastbound entrance to the Belt Parkway. Another is being created in the paved area between Canarsie Road and the westbound parkway entrance service road.
Despite the extensive work, Gateway officials say that the project is well conceived, and will not impact the 9,000-acre refuge which features such diverse habitats as salt marsh, upland field and woods, an open expanse of bay and islands, and varied fresh and brackish water ponds with more migratory birds flocking to it each year than to Yellowstone and Yosemite parks, and the Grand Canyon.
As of now, there’s no need to worry about the containment barriers, which are there to prevent the spread of turbid water, which is basically dredged-up debris, said Avrin.
“This is a project that has been in planning for over a decade,” he assured.