Squeezing the brakes: Mayor’s Queensboro Bridge bike and pedestrian lane project stalled by roadway rehab

The overhaul of the Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge’s tight pedestrian and bike lanes is being held up as a result of metropolis transportation officers are frightened about inflicting congestion amid an ongoing rehabilitation of the span’s upper-level roadway.

The Division of Transportation will begin work by yr finish to revamp the shared path on the bridge’s outer roadways, however the company gained’t full the project till they end changing the higher deck of the 119-year-old span in late 2022.

DOT Commissioner Hank Gutman instructed reporters throughout Mayor Invoice de Blasio’s each day press briefing on Tuesday that the new lanes would open as quickly as early 2022.

“We’re committed to getting Queensboro Bridge done,” Gutman mentioned. “The construction is proceeding and we will get as far as the weather permits us this year before winter weather slows us down, but we’re looking to have it done early next year.”

DOT’s press workplace later adopted as much as say their boss “misspoke” and that, whereas the company will start work this yr and present an up to date schedule in the spring, officers wish to wrap up the roadwork above first.

“Work will start this year, but the commissioner misspoke – it will not be complete in early 2022, due to the work that must be completed on the road decks. We will provide an updated completion date once work recommences in the spring,” mentioned spokesman Scott Gastel in an e-mail.

Gastel didn’t element what sort of work will begin in the coming weeks or when precisely it might start. 

Mayor Invoice de Blasio first introduced his plans to offer more room to cyclists and pedestrians on the Queensboro and Brooklyn bridges in his State of the City tackle in January.

Whereas the Brooklyn Bridge’s new bike lane opened in September to a lot fanfare from the metropolis and reward from bike advocates, the Queens project has been slower to get going.

The present lane is a infamous squeeze for each pedal pushers and pedestrians who should fend for house.

The town’s plan would make the northern outer roadway bike-only and ban vehicles from the southern outer roadway to show it right into a walkway, mimicking the arrange on the Manhattan Bridge.

However DOT desires to maintain the southern lane open for autos for so long as it really works to renovate the higher roadway, with the intention to maintain automobile site visitors transferring. 

“[South outer roadway] must be available for traffic at key times during upper deck construction to reduce local traffic issues, based on findings from traffic study and analysis,” based on a DOT presentation from May

The company focused late 2022 for the walkway’s implementation, the slides learn, coinciding with the above roadway’s repair.

DOT’s proposal for the walkway to interchange the south outer roadway.NYC DOT

The restore project goals to increase the outdated bridge’s lifespan by as much as 75 years by changing the higher deck, rehabbing each approaches and its structural metal, and substitute joints and boundaries, in accordance to an April presentation

One automobile lane is closed always for the work, however generally the metropolis takes two out of service. That also leaves six or seven lanes open for autos.

A diagram of lane closures from Nov. 1-6.NYC DOT

One other DOT official instructed a Queens neighborhood board throughout a digital assembly Monday night time that the repair is essential due the bridge’s excessive car site visitors.

“There is a massive rehabilitation going on on the Queensboro Bridge, but that the administration, obviously we want to make it safe for both pedestrians and cyclists,” Nicole Garcia instructed Neighborhood Board 2’s Transportation Committee on Nov. 1. “Before we conceived of this bike-ped separate paths, that contract is well out the door, it’s very important.” 

“The Queensboro Bridge is the workhorse of all of the East River bridges, so it carries more cars than the other ones — but that’s not to say safety isn’t our priority for bikes and peds,” the rep added.

Between 84,000-89,000 vehicles cross the Queensboro every method on a mean day, in comparison with 48,000-51,000 on the Brooklyn Bridge, figures from the April presentation show.

DOT monthly bike counts present that numbers surged to greater than 200,000 throughout the summer season bike increase of 2020, however the newest figures from 2021 present a decline to round 175,000 in August, nonetheless above pre-pandemic ranges of 144,000.

As compared the Williamsburg Bridge, with its separated bike and pedestrian paths for many of the method, had almost 258,000 crossings in August 2020 and greater than 219,000 for August of this yr.

Throughout the Nov. 1 neighborhood assembly, one native biking advocate known as on DOT to hurry up the course of to keep away from folks getting injured on the slender lanes.

“It’s also the workhorse for bikes, we’ve seen the counts, the bike boom is real and we really do need this as fast as possible because people are getting hurt unfortunately,” mentioned Laura Shepard.

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