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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Alexander Hamilton Bridge Rehabilitation: Largest NYSDOT Project Ever

This morning, the Bronx News Network got an inside look at the beginnings of New York State’s Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) largest construction project to date: the rehabilitation of Alexander Hamilton Bridge. The 1,485-foot bridge, which conn

ects the Bronx to the Manhattan community of Washington Heights via Interstate 95, has already begun its new $407 million “facelift.” The project, slated to finish in December 2013, will “benefit the entire northeast corridor, improving safety and relieving congestion,” said Governor David Paterson in a press release this morning.


At this morning’s groundbreaking ceremony, officials emphasized two benefits of the project: better infrastructure and new jobs. While speaking at a podium stationed under the 505-foot steel arch of the Alexander Hamilton, Stanley Gee, Acting

 Commissioner of NYSDOT, said, “For the first time in nearly half a century, the Alexander Hamilton Bridge will be rehabilitated. This will allow us to continue to put people back to work to re-charge the economy… while improving quality of life by relieving congestion.”


To combat congestion, the 46 year-old bridge’s pavement deck, which currently consists of four travel lanes in each direction, will be expanded to allow traffic to flow despite stalled vehicles. Other work includes the maintenance of ramps that make up the Highbridge Interchange between the Cross Bronx and the Major Deegan Expressway, along with the creation of playgrounds along Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan.


While the project’s main aim is to improve transportation between the Bronx and Manhattan, Denise Richardson, Managing Director of the General Contractors Association of New York, says the project could not come at a better moment. “In tough economic times, it is important to invest in infrastructure,” she said. Citing the projected creation of at least 200 to 300 new jobs for New York State workers “[to be] hired from the union halls”, Richardson sees the project as an effective economic stimulus for the State.


Though the long-term benefits of the project appear to be noteworthy, little discussion was paid at the press conference to the inconveniences that will be posed to commuters who use the bridge daily. Once the bridge’s rehabilitation project takes full flight in coming months, 200,000 commuters may experience “brief lane closures” and “occasional weekend closures” until the project’s completion, the NYSDOT stated this morning. Adam Levine, NYSDOT spokesman, told us the city is going to be working hard to prevent widespread congestion caused by construction. “We’re trying hard to avoid widespread back-up,” he said. “It’s going to be a challenge, and at times we’ll have to shut down work to accommodate commuters.”


Despite the headaches the bridge's rehabilitation is bound to cause some commuters, Levine says that by reaching out to local community boards, residents can get construction updates. “We’re having monthly meetings with Community Boards 4 and 5.” Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Greene added, “Though this will be an inconvenience, this project is well worth the while.”


Residents can also receive construction updates, and learn more about the project at www.nysdot.gov/AHB.

1 comment:

  1. "While the project’s main aim is to improve transportation between the Bronx and Manhattan..."

    If DOT was truly concerned with improving transportation between the Bronx and Manhattan, it would've spent the $407 million on public transit, because most trips between the two boroughs occur on trains and buses. This bridge project is just another giveaway to rich freeloaders from Westchester or tourists driving between Connecticut and New Jersey. For Bronx-Manhattan commuters, the benefit is minimal.


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