The 149th Street bridge, which spans the Long Island Railroad tracks near the Murray Hill stop, was closed for demolition and reconstruction in May of 2010. It was scheduled to reopen in November of 2011, but the bridge was determined by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to be unsafe for vehicles.
Since then it has been closed, shutting down a major thoroughfare in the neighborhood and forcing cars to use the narrow streets around the Murray Hill station as a detour. The bridge was opened to pedestrians in June of 2012.
Elected officials held a closed-door meeting with DOT officials at Queens Borough Hall last Friday, and then shared the news with the public that the bridge would have to be rebuilt.
“It’s extremely disappointing that we have to start this project again from square one,” said State Senator Toby Stavisky. “I know that residents and business owners are extremely frustrated with what has become an over four-year process.”
The DOT had not updated the public on the project until last week because of pending litigation against the firm responsible for the bridge’s initial design. The new project should be ready for bidding in two months, according to the elected officials.
State Senator Tony Avella first called attention to the unusually long closure in February of last year, when he was contacted by constituents.
“This contractor's failures have severely disrupted traffic patterns on this street, frustrating area residents and business owners whose businesses are now suffering as a result,” said Avella in 2013.
Elected officials pledged to work closely with DOT to ensure the promised timeline is met. As well as requesting periodic status updates on the project moving forward, the legislators also urged Queens DOT Commissioner Dalila Hall to meet with business owners in the area to explain the next steps of the project.
“The inability to open the 149th Street bridge for four years is a sign that our government bureaucracies have been failing our communities in Flushing,” said Assemblyman Ron Kim. “However, the new administration has given us hope that we will reach a conclusion on this issue. The community has waited way too long.”