A FASTER FINISH FOR COOPER FIX?
Contractor Eyes Change To Underpass Work
Seeking to complete the work well ahead of schedule, potential changes to the ongoing Cooper Avenue underpass reconstruction project were unveiled by an engineer during last Tuesday’s (Sept. 25) meeting of Community Board 5’s Transportation and Public Transit committees at the board’s Glendale office.
Luca Toscano of Scariano Construction, the firm handling the project on behalf of the city’s Departments of Design and Construction (DDC) and Transportation (DOT), told committee members that the company is asking for the agency to approve the installation of pre-fabricated concrete panels on the retaining walls along the northern side of the underpass between 74th and 79th streets.
Previously, crews completed the rehabilitation of retaining walls on the southern side of the roadway, which included the stripping and re- placement of several inches of the exterior concrete. New concrete parapets were also installed atop the retaining wall.
Following its completion, however, water was observed seeping from the new layer of concrete. Committee member Donald Passantino presented photos which showed some hairline cracks as well as bubbles in the surface of the retaining wall.
Toscano explained that the exterior concrete “acted as a veneer” and did not the structural integrity of the wall itself. Patches were nonetheless installed over flaws. Vincent Arcuri, chairperson of Board 5, further explained that the problems seen at the wall occur naturally with concrete due to the climate.
If approved, he stated, crews will install the pre-cast slabs of concrete along the retaining wall on the northern side of Cooper Avenue. The panels will be secured with bolts, with a small space reserved for proper drainage. Toscano expected that this method will allow for the completion of the underpass four months ahead of schedule.
Arcuri stated that the board committees will also ask the DDC and DOT to provide funding for rehabilitation of the abutments of the underpass below 71st Avenue and the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) Montauk branch. Those segments were left out of the original underpass project.
The chairperson noted that the committees will not be able to take an official position on the proposed changes to the work unless the plans are presented by the DDC and DOT.
The city currently lists the expected completion date as June 2013.
Other capital projects
District Manager Gary Giordano announced that the MTA has begun its “station renewal” project along the M line in Bushwick, closing the Knickerbocker Avenue station around the clock through early next year. He noted that the board has yet to hear updates as to when the authority will begin making the scheduled repairs to the Fresh Pond Road, Seneca Avenue and Forest Avenue stations in Ridgewood.
Arcuri added that the MTA has yet to provide to the board updated information about the scheduled improvements to the Ridgewood stations, specifically answers to concerns raised by committee members previously.
Now classified as a “designbuild” project, the state Department of Transportation is in the process of planning the start of the Kosciuszko Bridge project, the chairperson reported. The work, which will be completed in two phases, includes the construction of new spans and the demolition and replacement of the existing structure over the Newtown Creek.
Also included in the project is the development and/or improvement of parks on both sides of the creek in Queens and Brooklyn, Arcuri said. While the state plans on creating a park under the Kosciuszko Bridge in West Maspeth, the chairperson noted, the state still has to find other areas of parkland near the bridge in Queens.
The Kosciuszko Bridge work is scheduled to begin in 2014.
Turning to the reconstruction of the bridge carrying Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road over the LIRR Montauk branch on the Ridgewood/ Middle Village border, Giordano said that the city Department of Transportation is in the final design phase. The plans are expected to be completed in April 2013, and the work may begin as early as the following December.
Freight rail impact
With Suffolk County having approved the sale of over 200 acres of land to the operators of the Brookhaven Rail Terminal, Arcuri discussed the potential impact any expansion of that facility would have on freight rail traffic in Glendale and Middle Village.
As previously reported, the Suffolk County legislature approved the deal on Sept. 13, over the objection of several Queens residents and elected officials. It is believed that the operators of the Brookhaven Rail Terminal aim to use the purchased land to expand the facility.
Since any and all freight rail traffic to and from Long Island must go through the Fresh Pond Railyard in Glendale, Arcuri noted, any expansion of the Brookhaven facility will ultimately lead to more noise and air pollution issued experienced by residents living nearby.
“With an increase in rail traffic, Fresh Pond Railyard will be operating at full speed,” he said, noting that operations already take place during overnight hours to accommodate two LIRR passenger trains which run through the area daily.
Board 5 had requested that before any additional freight activity is brought to Fresh Pond Railyard and connecting rail lines, the state and MTA institute several measures to improve the quality of life for area residents, Arcuri stated. One of the ideas suggested is the “repowering” and replacement of older “tier 0” diesel locomotives with modern engines that are quieter and more fuelefficient.
States such as California, Pennsylvania and Illinois have previously ordered the repowering of diesel locomotives in expanding freight rail operations, and the chairman lamented that New York State has yet to make such improvements here.
“We’re still functioning in the 18th century, forget about the 19th or 20th century,” Arcuri said of the situation.
Public Transit Committee Co- Chair Theodore Renz reported that the city’s Design Commission has requested changes to the plans for the creation of a new public plaza at the Glendale Memorial Triangle.
According to Renz, the panel wanted a more egg-shaped configuration around the monument at the center of the plaza. The commission also rejected the style of the water fountain to be installed at the location since it did not match the more modern look of the benches.
The Ridgewood Local Development Corporation (RLDC), which is partnering on the project with the city DOT, submitted their response to the commission’s critique. The revised plans will sent to the panel for their examination later this month, Renz added.
Meanwhile, the DOT has begun installing a temporary pedestrian plaza along 71st Avenue between Myrtle Avenue and Stephen Street in Ridgewood, according to Renz. It is expected that the facility, being created by the city DOT in partnership with the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement
District, would be completed by the end of this week.
Traffic safety requests
The committees approved the city DOT’s plan to install speed bumps on Juniper Boulevard North in Middle Village at three different locations, Arcuri stated. The locations are between 75th and 76th streets, between 77th Street and 77th Place and between 78th and 79th streets.
The chairperson also noted that the DOT agreed to install a speed bump on 51st Road between 67th and 69th streets in Maspeth, in close proximity to P.S. 229.
Christian Wittmann of Glendale asked the committees to request the installation of traffic control devices along 64th Place between Myrtle and Cooper avenues. He noted that the stretch has been the site of many vehicular accidents in recent years.
Giordano stated that a request for a speed bump along the roadway in the area had been previously requested to the DOT, and that he would investigate it further.
Another Glendale resident, David Sands, asked for the one-way conversion of 60th Lane between St. Felix and 74th avenues. Since the road is used by Q39 buses as a turnaround, he explained, the large vehicles make it difficult for residential traffic to pass through the area.
Arcuri said the request would be forwarded to the DOT for further examination.
The committees also agreed to ask the DOT to approve the following requests for traffic control devices in the area:
• changing the no standing regulations along Borden Avenue westbound adjacent to Principe Park in Maspeth to begin daily at 11 p.m. (the regulation currently takes effect at 9 p.m.);
• an all-way stop sign at the corner of Madison Street and 60th Place in Ridgewood; and
• an all-way stop sign at the corner of Tonsor Street and Greene Avenue in Ridgewood.
The next meeting of Community Board 5’s Transportation and Public Transit committees is scheduled to take place on Tuesday night, Oct. 23, at 7:30 p.m. at the board’s Glendale office, located at 61-23 Myrtle Ave. For additional information, call 1-718-366-1834.