Forum Photo by Michael V. Cusenza
Enormous digital signage on Fresh Pond Road in Ridgewood warns residents, commuters, and business owners that construction on the massive, oft-delayed enterprise is set to start early next week.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The day that hundreds of business owners and hundreds of thousands of residents of several borough communities have dreaded for years has finally arrived.
After myriad delays and examples of Hall of Fame-level mastery of bureaucratic red tape, work on the Emergency Deck Replacement at Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road Bridge over the Long Island Rail Road project is set to start on Tuesday morning, Jan. 31.
The focus of the massive undertaking is a two-span link built more than 100 years ago. According to the City Department of Transportation, the superstructure consists of concrete-encased steel beams with a concrete deck and varying depths of asphalt wearing surface. The substructure consists of a reinforced concrete pier and gravity-type plain concrete abutments and wing walls.
The bridge crosses over the LIRR Montauk Branch and carries the roadway that is part of the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue with Fresh Pond Road – easily one of the most congested and critical junctions in Queens. The project will have a direct and powerful impact on parking, transportation, commerce, and general quality of life in Ridgewood, Middle Village, Maspeth, and Glendale; however, it undoubtedly will have a domino-like affect on communities adjacent to those four.
But it’s a crucial enterprise.
“The concrete deck is in very poor condition, with several areas plated over with steel plates in order to maintain vehicular traffic and protect the LIRR below,” according to the DOT’s annual 2015 Bridges and Tunnels Conditions Report. “The deck needs to be replaced immediately as there is potential for more damage to occur in the near future. The Agency is currently discussing the possibility of declaring that an emergency exists relative to the bridge. Due to the potentially serious danger to life and public safety posed by the current condition, it is critical that the repair work be performed as expeditiously as possible. The general proposed scope of work includes: replacement of the bridge deck, repair of the beam encasements, and necessary steel superstructure and substructure repairs.”
Expected to take nearly two years to complete, the project’s anticipated end date is winter 2018.