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New York State Begins $517.5M Replacement of Bronx River Parkway Bridges

Mon July 01, 2024 - Northeast Edition #15

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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced June 26 that a $517.5 million initiative to replace bridges along the Bronx River Parkway has gotten under way.

She said the construction will improve resiliency and enhance safety along a vital travel artery that serves tens of thousands of commuters each day.

The project, which contains more than $200 million in funding provided by the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will also create smoother traffic flow by providing a dedicated southbound exit ramp from the parkway to East 177th Street.

In addition, a new shared-use path will be constructed that includes a connection to the scenic Bronx River Greenway for pedestrians and cyclists.

Hochul added that improvements to the expressway are especially necessary as climate change continues to impact the area and emphasized the need for upgrades to some of the surrounding roadways.

"Modernizing our infrastructure to meet the demands of the 21st century means creating a transportation network that strengthens the connections between communities and provides opportunity for all users, including pedestrians and cyclists," Hochul said in a news release.

According to her office, contractors will replace two bridges south of the Bronx Zoo.

The first carries the Bronx River Parkway over East Tremont Avenue, while the second crosses East 180th Street, Morris Park Avenue, and an adjacent New York City Transit yard.

Both highway structures were built in 1951 and are nearing the end of their service lives.

They will be replaced with modern structures featuring redundant steel girders, stainless-steel reinforced concrete decks, concrete piers, fewer bridge joints and other features intended to reduce their long-term maintenance costs and harden their resistance to the impacts of climate change and severe weather.

Last September, a week of rain flooded the Bronx River Parkway and caused suspensions on three Metro-North rail lines, according to the Bronx Times. The parkway was temporarily closed in both directions as crews tried to mitigate the damage, and Hochul declared a State of Emergency across New York City, the Hudson River Valley and Long Island.

Another critical goal of the rebuilding effort is to cut down on the high number of fatal crashes that have occurred in recent years along this particular stretch of the busy commuter artery, a fact that has led many people to refer to it as the parkway's "Bermuda Triangle."

Welcome Replacement of Aging Infrastructure

The new construction was announced four days before congestion pricing, which would fund outstanding Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) capital projects, was set to take effect. Hochul indefinitely delayed the program, designed to charge a $15 toll for cars entering parts of Manhattan, in a last-minute decision earlier in June that drew much scrutiny.

In addition to full bridge replacements, which aim to reduce longer-term upkeep costs and provide a better defense against the affects of climate change, the project also will include new stormwater drainage facilities, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant curbs, ramps and sidewalks.

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) also plans to resurface the roadway along Morris Park Avenue from East 180th Street.

Large concrete surfaces within the project limits will feature architectural design elements to match those already present in the surrounding area, Hochul's office said, and part of the project will get a new exit ramp from southbound Bronx River Parkway to East 177th Street that is due to cross Morris Park Avenue, East 180th, and East Tremont Avenue along the way. This is meant to smooth the flow of traffic and "help tie together residential neighborhoods."

The new, 12-ft.-wide, shared-use path will be constructed to the east of the parkway's northbound lanes and is designed to help tie together residential neighborhoods in the area. It will begin near the intersection of Bronx River and Noble avenues and connect to the existing Bronx River Greenway (BRG) in Bronx Park, near the New York Police Department (NYPD) Highway Patrol Building.

Construction of the new bridges will be conducted in stages and all travel lanes on the Bronx River Parkway will be maintained throughout the project. Except for several key overnight periods, access to existing ramps and city streets also will be maintained throughout construction.

Because of extensive coordination between NYSDOT and New York City Transit, interruptions to nearby rail traffic during demolition and construction will also be minimized, Hochul's office noted in its news release.

"This project is part of New York State's ongoing commitment to restore its aging infrastructure, creating a more resilient transportation network that connects communities, promotes growth, enhances public safety and provides access to all users of the system," said Marie Therese Dominguez, commissioner of the NYSDOT. "These new bridges, exit ramp and shared-use path along the Bronx River Parkway will improve and enhance travel for all users … along one of the metropolitan region's busiest highways."

The Bronx Parkway replacement project is slated for completion in the spring of 2028, according to NYSDOT.

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