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Local News April 30, 2009  RSS feed

Final Kosciuszko Bridge Design Unveiled

Upcoming Plans For Span Discussed
story and photo by Ralph Mancini

The above map is a bird's eye view of the state Department of Transportation's BR-5 design for the Kosciuszko Bridge. The new structure will have four lanes going in each direction. The above map is a bird's eye view of the state Department of Transportation's BR-5 design for the Kosciuszko Bridge. The new structure will have four lanes going in each direction. Members of the Kosciuszko Bridge Project's Stakeholders Advisory Committee (SAC) at their Apr. 23 meeting were introduced to the lead engineer of the design team entrusted with replacing the bridge structure, which spans Newtown Creek between Brooklyn and Queens.

Project Manager Robert Adams from the state Department of Transportation (DOT) announced to advisory committee members gathered at Long Island City's Hunters Point Plaza that Michael Abrahams of Parsons Brinkerhoff would be the point man in charge of a 39-month finaldesign period preceeding the commencement of the construction phase in the Fall 2013.

Abrahams was "thrilled" to direct the endeavor, which would entail preparing for the replacement of the long bridge structure while maintaining traffic.

State DOT Project Manager Robert Adams (left) explains some of the design work involved with the construction of the new Kosciuszko Bridge. State DOT Project Manager Robert Adams (left) explains some of the design work involved with the construction of the new Kosciuszko Bridge. He detailed the investigations, surveys, roadway alignment and bridge-type selection work that would go into the first stage of the final-design phase, which should take appoximately 13 months.

The second-stage, he added, would consist of a preparation of final plans, specifications, bidding packages, as well as the continuation of public outreach.

According to DOT's approved Alternative BR-5 design, two new parallel bridges, located on the Queens-bound side, would replace the existing structure, which will be torn down.

The bridges will be in place temporarily as a new structure is built in place of the demolished one.

When completed, the new bridges will reportedly carry five lanes of eastbound traffic and four lanes of westbound traffic, complete with standard lane widths and shoulders.

In its current state, the 70-year- old Kosciuszko Bridge—which carries three lanes of traffic in each direction— is prone to high accident rates and excessive traffic delays due to the bridge's vertical profile and other structural deficiencies that aren't compliant with modern standards.

Abrahams informed SAC members of his decision to bring famed French architectural designer Michel Virlogeux on board as a subconsultant.

Virlogeux, he explained, has led the way in the conception and design of several concrete, arch and suspension bridges throughout the world.

"In this industry there aren't many leading people, and you end up running into the same individuals," said the speaker in response to inquiries on the part of SAC members questioning why a local professional couldn't be found.

Abrahams and his team of engineers will reportedly be examining eight different concepts during the bridge-type selection process.

Only three, however, will be chosen for detailed study.

Following the concept evaluation, continued Abrahams, a preferred scheme for final design will finally be determined.

Engineers will perform borings, PS logging and other environmental tests to analyze the bridge area's seismic activity.

"It's a seismically active zone. We will lower an instrument into a hole to determine the motions affecting the bridge and seeing what forces are in play," he specified.

The engineer guaranteed Greenpoint Waterfront Association's Michael Hofmann that SAC committee members would receive reports on all testing results.

Stakeholders were also assured that every effort would be made to encourage local businesses to contribute to the construction phase by taking part in the bidding process during the second stage of final design activities.

The panel of engineers at the meeting further advised the group that only American steel would be used in the grand undertaking.

Parsons Brinkerhoff's Gregory G. Hoer, senior landscape architectural manager, was on hand to outline the park design in the vicinity of the Kosciuszko Bridge that he'll be responsible for.

The Baltimore-based designer spoke of bikeway/walkay construction along the westbound side of the bridge, as well as launches that will be added for small, non-motorized boats on each side of Newtown Creek.

Subconsultant Helen Neuhaus thanked SAC members for their contributions in the bridge design plans, and urged them to continue offering their comments and concerns.

"It would've taken a lot longer if SAC didn't help us make tough decisions," she observed. "SAC is the centerpiece of our outreach program ... you are our eyes and ears."