Sunday, September 22, 2013

Brooklyn Bridges Begging for Boost

Of the 240 bridges linking Brooklyn’s roads over its waterways, at least half are in terrible condition, according to experts at the Federal Highway Administration, and elsewhere. Apparently a few of those are in such bad shape that they can actually crumble apart at any time.

The 15 bridges in the direst condition include seven along the Belt Parkway, a group of Q train trestles in Kensington, and several spans along the BQE. These bridges have been labeled “structurally deficient” and “fracture critical” by the Federal Highway Administration.

“Every time you see a bridge classified as structurally deficient and fracture critical it means that bridge could fall at a moment’s notice,” said Barry LePatner, an expert who has written extensively about the country’s crumbling infrastructure.

Mill Basin Bridge, opened in 1940, was the only moveable bridge on the Belt
Parkway. The new bridge under construction by the DOT will be a fixed structure.
Many of the bridges were built in the 30s and 40s and could take years to repair. It is now four years since the city began to rebuild seven unsafe bridges on the Belt Parkway, at a cost of $365 million. Those spans carry about 150,000 cars each day from Brooklyn and Queens to JFK Airport and beyond, and to the Gowanus Expressway and the Verrazano-Narrow Bridge westerly.

“We all know those bridges are the worst of the worst,” said City Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Mill Basin), who noted the city was working to replace them. “Those bridges have launched the careers of so many personal injury lawyers.”

Eventually all the bridges will be fixed, but in the meantime what can New York drivers do? It seems not much, other than keep driving and pray that all will be well.

“All the agencies, politicians and the government are fully aware of this problem,” LePatner said. “But they would rather put their money towards funding new projects for the public.”