DOT to Replace the Deteriorating 60-Year-Old FDR Overpass at East Houston Street

Posted on: November 7th, 2014 at 5:33 am by

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Photo: Google Maps

It’s a dangerous intersection that aggravates drivers and pedestrians alike. Always a vehicular bottleneck and never a good time for park-goers to safely cross. We are referring to the system of bridge and ramps at the FDR terminus of East Houston Street. To make matters worse, the sixty-year-old concrete slab has been identified as unstable and no longer fit for duty. The Department of Transportation is now readying a replacement.

Representatives from the DOT explained the plans last night to members of the Transportation subcommittee of Community Board 3. Apparently this presentation is the final design.

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In a nutshell, the project objectives are:

  • Replacing the main bridge superstructure slab, one half at a time to keep things moving.
  • Rehabilitate both the entrance and exit ramps to the FDR Drive.
  • Introduce traffic lights in the “half-rotary” traffic pattern.
  • Minimize the impact to drivers and pedestrians during the project period.

For what it’s worth, the panel was quite surprised that the city agency decided to retool the clusterfuck of a situation here. Especially with regard to the implementation of new street signals. There were admissions that the community had fought decades for this, and were told it’s futile (i.e. bureaucracy of state property). Of course, swapping free-for-all stop signs for the controlled flow of timers flow presents its own problems for motorists, and there were some worries about backups. Small price to pay for increased safety.

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New bike lanes and wider sidewalks are an ancillary benefit.

Longevity is not baked into the proposal, though. Apparently this deck replacement is only a temporary fix with an expiration date of twenty years. “Rehabilitation on steroids” was the sound byte. The reason is due to the $335 million “Big U” program to buttress Manhattan in preparation of the next big storm; DOT didn’t want to go for gold if the bridge would need to be reconfigured again in the near future anyway.

The roughly $10 million project will break ground in July 2015, and last for at least eighteen months. That puts a completion somewhere in the neighborhood of December 2016. Traffic will not be interrupted, but affected nonetheless.

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