State Senator Tony Avella last week criticized the Department of Transportation for a stalled bridge reconstruction project that has left 149th Street between Roosevelt and 41st avenues closed since 2010.
DOT closed the section of 149th Street in 2010 to reconstruct a bridge that crosses the Long Island Railroad. Demolition and reconstruction of the bridge was supposed to be finished by November of 2011.
After numerous delays, work was completed in May of 2012, but when DOT inspected the contractor's work, they found deficiencies and determined the bridge was not safe for vehicular traffic.
When Avella held his press conference on the bridge last Friday afternoon, several gray boxes were positioned on the bridge, many on top of visible cracks in the concrete.
Large barriers have ultimately turned 149th Street into a dead end for the last three years, which Avella says is impacting local business and residents.
“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.
Avella said his office was first contacted about the issue in September of last year. Since then, he has been pressuring DOT for answers as to when repairs will be made and the street reopened.
“It's amazing that two years after the project was supposed to be finished, the barricades are still up,” said Avella.
In fact, Avella has even had trouble getting the agency to give him the name of the original contractor, and during Friday's press conference a member of his staff received word from DOT that the senator's office would have to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act to get the name.
“What is DOT now covering up here?” asked Avella. “Originally, this story should have been about the contractor. Now it's about the contractor and the city Department of Transportation.”
A DOT spokesperson confirmed the bridge was not safe.
“Safety is DOT’s top priority, and in the interest of public safety, the 149th Street Bridge will remain closed until it is deemed safe to reopen to vehicular traffic,” said the spokesperson.
DOT also did not reveal the name of the contractor, but did say it was considering suing the company that did the work.
“The designer has been advised of the presence of the defects, and that the city is considering legal action,” added the spokesperson.