Sept. 10, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
The Department of Transportation has thrown cold water on excitement about progress for the Pulaski Bridge bikeway, a project that is coming to be defined by fits and starts.
Last week, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, who represents the Brooklyn side of the bridge, announced that engineering problems for the bikeway had been unexpectedly resolved and that construction “could potentially be completed before the winter.”
As the LIC Post reported in July, these problems involved drainage and caused a setback in barrier installations. The bikeway’s expected completion date – originally planned for 2014, then pushed back to spring 2015, and then again to winter – was set back yet again to spring 2016.
Lentol’s announcement appeared to be a positive update, indicating that with problems resolved, construction would begin Sept. 14 and take only a few months.
When reached for comment following Lentol’s announcement, the DOT confirmed that the drainage and barrier issues were overcome and construction would begin “the week of Sept. 14.”
However, the agency still anticipates a completion date of Spring 2016, a spokesperson said.
In an email Thursday, Lentol’s office explained that he had understood, per the DOT, that the project would take about two or three months once started. But that estimate was for earlier in the year, and the DOT is now faced with possible weather constraints.
The DOT spokesperson did not address this specific statement, but did say that construction is expected to take six months, weather permitting.
Currently, cyclists and pedestrians on the Pulaski Bridge share a narrow path. The bikeway project will eliminate a lane of Brooklyn-bound traffic to create a two-way protected bike path next to a protected pedestrian path.
Preliminary work on the bikeway project began in March, with the contractor conducting a series of brief drawbridge openings, according to a DOT advisory.
Lentol, alongside Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and street safety advocates, have long been pushing for the bikeway.
Despite the sobering response from the DOT, Lentol said, “getting the project started is the most important part.”
“I am happy that the project will, at the very latest, be ready for the spring,” he added.