Near Normal Operation by August 10; Most Trucks Return This Week
MTA officials today announced a series of repairs that will return the Throgs Neck Bridge, the scene of a construction fire on July 10, to near normal operation by August 10. By this Saturday, July 25, initial repairs will be completed and the ban for most trucks, including State divisible load permitted trucks that weigh up to 105,000 pounds, will be lifted.
"We are making progress on all three of our goals related to the Throgs Neck: mitigating traffic, identifying repair plans and fully investigating the cause of the accident," said MTA Interim Executive Director Helena E. Williams. "We regret the continued inconvenience to our customers but we are pleased that we can return to near normal operations soon."
One of three northbound bridge lanes and the Cross Island Parkway on–ramp have been closed and Bronx–bound trucks have been banned since the fire. As a result, northbound trucks and other traffic have shifted to the Bronx–Whitestone and the RFK Bridges, and other feeder roads have been impacted as well.
On August 10, the Cross Island Parkway ramp and a third lane on the bridge will reopen, returning the bridge to its usual three lanes northbound. Lanes will be narrowed to allow work to continue. Further repair and reconstruction work, including a portion of a planned deck replacement, will continue into the fall. The three lanes will be maintained for traffic throughout the project.
B&T engineers and health and safety staff, along with outside experts on infrastructure fire and steel structures, found significant damage in the fire area and are expediting the repairs which involve reinforcement and replacement of steel. The Throgs Neck Bridge is a key regional link that carries 112,000 vehicles on an average day.
"Safety is our highest priority, which guides our plans to restore this critical regional link to normal operation," said Susan Kupferman, President of MTA Bridges and Tunnels. "Our goal is to make these necessary structural repairs as quickly as possible while minimizing the impact to customers. We will continue to communicate information and conditions via signs, MTA email alerts and of course through the media."
MTA Bridges and Tunnels and FDNY have ongoing investigations into the cause of the fire. Both agencies believe the fire was caused by a spark from a contractor's torch being used to cut steel on the roadway that ignited construction material on scaffolding below the bridge. Bridges and Tunnels is holding the contractor responsible for all repairs and costs incurred. It is also requiring an independent safety monitor, paid for by the contractor and reporting to Bridges and Tunnels, to monitor all work. Contractor employees who were directly involved in the incident have been removed from the project.
The following actions have been in place since the fire to ease traffic conditions:
- All planned construction on the Bronx–Whitestone and RFK Bridges has been temporarily suspended. When necessary, potholes are being filled at night to the extent possible.
- Extra tow trucks have been assigned to key locations at all three bridges in order to remove disabled vehicles.
- Additional Bridge and Tunnel Officers have been assigned to process toll traffic. Toll collection sites are being reversed where possible to add capacity where needed for toll processing.
- B&T continues to coordinate with TRANSCOM and State and City transportation agencies to inform motorists. More than 24 additional signs were installed on approaches to the bridge in addition to several signs provided by State DOT.
MTA Bridges and Tunnels' facilities, which connect the five boroughs of New York City, are the Throgs Neck, Robert F. Kennedy (formerly Triborough), Bronx–Whitestone, Henry Hudson, Verrazano–Narrows, Cross Bay Veterans Memorial and Marine Parkway–Gil Hodges Bridges, and the Queens Midtown and Brooklyn–Battery Tunnels.