The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) announced yesterday the start of construction to improve traffic flow from the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge to the eastbound Gowanus Expressway.
The project aims to reduce congestion for drivers heading into Brooklyn and Manhattan during rush hours. More than 60,000 vehicles per day pack the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge traveling eastbound to the Gowanus Expressway.
“The project is a beneficial time-saver for commuters who travel between Staten Island and Manhattan every day and those motorists who exit at Fort Hamilton Parkway,” said Daniel DeCrescenzo, Acting President MTA Bridges and Tunnels. “Plus, the project will reduce the potential for collisions and improve the overall safety of the bridge.”
The $18 million project will widen the segment of the roadway from 92nd Street to the Fort Hamilton Parkway exit. Currently, two lanes from the upper level and two lanes from the lower level of the bridge converge near 92nd Street onto the Gowanus Expressway. Then, east of 92nd Street, the four-lane roadway drops to three lanes. The new construction will expand the Fort Hamilton Parkway exit ramp to two lanes and add a fourth eastbound lane from the Verrazzano to the Fort Hamilton Parkway exit, the MTA explained.
Roadway construction began last week, MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan told Bklyner, and will last through next spring. Authorities say the project will improve the traffic flow and potentially reduce collisions by 20%.
Councilmember Justin Brannan of the 43rd District, serving Bay Ridge, told us it’s been a long time coming for the bridge to finally get the widening.
“The bottleneck during AM and PM rush hour at the awkward merge onto the Fort Hamilton Parkway exit has driven me – and everyone else – insane for a very long time. Lately, we’ve only watched it get worse,” he told Bklyner. “With vehicles entering from 92nd Street intersecting with vehicles exiting Fort Hamilton Parkway, the congestion here can literally back up traffic from 86th Street all the way to Bay Ridge Parkway. We have been begging MTA Bridges and Tunnels to take action and had many meetings with engineers to show them how bad this had become. I’m happy they listened to us and are finally going to make this right by widening the Ft. Hamilton Pkwy exit once and for all.”
Josephine Beckmann District Manager Community Board 10, that serves Bay Ridge, Fort Hamilton, and Dyker Heights, says residents have been regularly complaining about the congestion at the bridge in the last few years.
“I think it’s going to make a historically awkward merge a lot safer,” she Beckmenn told Bklyner. “I think it’s gonna really help smooth that transition, that kind of wonky merge is not an ideal situation.”
The back up from the Fort Hamilton Parkway exit has been noticeably growing, she said, adding the additional lane will help traffic move safely. However, she noted, local residents should brace for construction noise at night as it’s important to keep peak hours moving. “I hope it won’t be too bad,” she added.
Construction will take place during off-peak times, overnight and mid-days, Donovan told Bklyner, as they’ll be maintaining all traffic lanes during rush hours.
“It’s bad enough we have out-of-state trucks clogging our roads, but on top of that we have outdated roadways and crumbling infrastructure,” Congressman Max Rose, who reps the 11th congressional district, which includes all of Staten Island and parts of southern Brooklyn, told Bklyner. “These badly-needed investments will improve safety and traffic, but we need to be clear that this should not impact the daily life of residents in the process.”