Oct. 18, 2019 By Christian Murray
The Department of Transportation will be replacing the surface of the upper deck of the Queensboro Bridge in what is expected to be a multi-year project, according to Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia.
The DOT will be announcing precise details of the project in coming months and will be visiting nearby community boards to present the plan.
“The Queensboro Bridge is the workhorse of all the East River bridges,” Garcia said Tuesday at the Hunters Point Civic Association’s monthly meeting. “It carries the most vehicular traffic [of the four bridges], so the project to reconstruct the upper roadway will be a long one.”
The plans have ramifications for those who have been looking to have a separate bicycle and pedestrian path on the bridge.
Currently, bicyclists and pedestrians share a narrow space on the north outer roadway. The advocates—and elected leaders such as Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer– want the north outer roadway to be dedicated for bicyclists with the south outer roadway, currently used by cars, for sole pedestrian use.
Garcia said that the DOT plans to use the south outer roadway as a staging area for the construction. She said that the agency is studying the proposal from advocacy group Transportation Alternatives.
“We have heard loud and clear the cyclists and pedestrians are very constrained,” she said. “The reason why we are not just removing the traffic lane and putting down a path is we are going to be using the outer roadway for staging. Construction is going to take some time–it is a big project.”
But Juan Restrepo, Queens Organizer with Transportation Alternatives, said that he recognizes that bridges need to be maintained. However, he said that thousands of bicyclists and pedestrians are using the bridge and it is dangerously overcrowded.
He wants the DOT to look for solutions now, arguing that the public can’t wait for years, as the number of users continues to grow.
“We mostly think the DOT has a very car centric view point on the Queensboro bridge,” Restrepo said, adding that the DOT needs to be more aggressive in promoting bicycle and pedestrian use.
“We want the DOT to push the boundaries,” he said.