Newly constructed ramps to and from the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge in Rockaway will reopen to motorists on May 22nd, just in time for Memorial Day weekend and the kick–off of beach season.
"We promised to try and complete the ramp reconstruction work before this important weekend," said Adrian Moshe, Facility Engineer for both the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway–Gil Hodges Memorial bridges. "We are pleased to turn over these like–new ramps to our customers."
The north–bound ramp onto the bridge has been closed since December 2008, and the south–bound ramp off the bridge has been closed since February of this year. During these periods vehicles and buses were required to use detour routes. Buses will return to their original routes beginning Saturday, May 23rd.
While major work on all bridge ramps has concluded, there may be instances of isolated daily closures until the entire project comes to an end in 2010. This access is timely, since traffic increases considerably in the summer months. July is historically the month with highest traffic volume at Cross Bay; there were 740,000 crossings in July 2008 vs. the lowest volume in February 2008 with 558,000 crossings. The Cross Bay Bridge had more than 7.6 million vehicles crossing its span in 2008.
Rehabilitation work on the roadway deck, ramps and pedestrian path (which re–opened last October) is part of MTA Bridges and Tunnels' overall $56.9 million four–year deck reconstruction of the 38–year old bridge that will continue through spring 2010. Three decades of wear–and–tear in the salt–water environment of the Rockaways made the work necessary. El Sol Contracting & Construction Corp. of Maspeth, Queens is the contractor for the job.
"This major project will improve the riding surface and generally upgrade the bridge for our customers," said John Ryder, General Manager for the agency's two Rockaways crossings. "We thank everyone–customers and local residents–for their patience as the work has progressed."
The agency has been regularly briefing local community groups and elected officials about progress on each phase of the project.
The Cross Bay Bridge ties the Rockaways, Broad Channel and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to the rest of Queens. The bridge, which opened to traffic in 1970, is a high–level fixed bridge with a concrete deck; it has six lanes of traffic (three 12–feet wide lanes in each direction), crossing over Beach Channel.
MTA Bridges and Tunnels' facilities, which connect the five boroughs of New York City, are the Robert F. Kennedy (formerly Triborough), Throgs Neck, Bronx–Whitestone, Henry Hudson, Verrazano–Narrows, Cross Bay Veterans Memorial and Marine Parkway–Gil Hodges Bridges, and the Queens Midtown and Brooklyn–Battery Tunnels. The agency is the largest toll authority in the nation, helping more than 800,000 vehicles and more than a million people reach their destination each day.
Photo caption: Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge on a sunny day.