A concrete barrier on Fresh Pond Road in Middle Village—that some residents see as a safety hazard—was placed on the street by the Department of Transportation more than two years ago, and will remain in place for another four years, according to the agency.
At that location, Fresh Pond Road is technically referred to as a “bridge structure” since the Long Island Rail Road runs underneath it.
On the sidewalk, there is a hole in the deck of the bridge covered by a metal plate. The barrier was put in place “to prevent vehicular traffic from rolling over the plate, potentially creating an unsafe condition for pedestrians on the sidewalk,” according to a statement from the DOT.
But motorists say the barrier is a hazard to anyone driving north on Fresh Pond Road, and drivers must swerve in order to miss the obstacle.
“The bottom line is if you’re going straight, you’re going to bang right into it,” said Glendale resident Bud Livingston. “I hope that never happens, it will be a very peculiar lawsuit if it did.”
Livingston has been in touch with various city agencies and the Long Island Rail Road since November of 2004, trying to rectify what he sees as a dangerous situation.
Long discussions with 311 operators and the Long Island Rail Road did not help to rectify the problem.
It turns out that a capital reconstruction project is scheduled for fiscal year 2009. The project had been scheduled to begin next year, however, “due to various design and land acquisition complications, the project has been delayed until FY ‘09,” according to the transportation department’s statement.
An engineer for the agency, who declined to give his name due to city guidelines, said the reconstruction is complicated for a number of reasons.
For one thing, a Chevrolet dealer directly across the street owns a portion of the land that must be acquired in order to start the project. There are also gas mains, water mains and traffic lights that run under the asphalt. The agency is now in the process of finalizing plans, according to the DOT engineer.
Yet, the agency maintains that the condition of the bridge and the plate are safe and that engineers conduct biweekly inspections at the location.
But for community members, who were told that the renovation would begin next year, that answer is not good enough. Vincent Arcuri, Jr., chairperson of Community Board 5, has been following the situation for a long time and is more concerned about the bridge collapsing than the jersey barrier.
Oversized trucks making turns at the location may have caused the hole, he said, and any more stress could lead to a collapse.
“They should complete the design, get it funded and get it started,” Arcuri said. “They need to do the renovation. They need to do something quickly.”