A minor step in a major project that has been on hold for years is set to begin in upcoming weeks, according to Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village).
The project, which involves grade adjustments to Metropolitan Avenue between 61st and 62nd streets and to Fresh Pond Road between 62nd Road and Bleeker Street, which were originally proposed in 2003, will see its first phase begin in upcoming weeks, she said.
The heavily used sections of the roadways are technically a bridge over the tracks where the Long Island Rail Road Montauk line once stopped at the now-closed Fresh Pond station.
The tracks are now exclusively used for freight trains.
“This project will rehabilitate the Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road bridge over the LIRR tracks,” a city Department of Transportation spokesman wrote in an email. “The project is currently in the design stage and is scheduled for construction in 2015.”
While the rehabilitation to the bridge will not occur for some time, phase one, which was added in collaboration with Crowley, is set to begin within the next few weeks.
The partnership came about when Crowley, who was looking to knock down an abandoned newsstand near the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road and turn it into a green space, was denied by Department of Design and Construction.
The Juniper Park Civic Association has also pressed for the stand’s removal, and last week painted it and cleaned the area around it.
“I had been looking to get this newsstand taken down for years,” Crowley said. “So, I requested that we put the two plans together and DOT agreed. There will be phase one, which involves taking the newsstand down, and then phase two, which will include the bridge renovation.”
The DDC, DOT and Department of City Planning would not confirm or deny that phase one will break ground soon.
“The project overall is very important for the community,” Crowley said. “The newsstand has been an eyesore for years and now it will finally be brought down. The second part is also vital. That roadway is above tracks and with so many heavy trucks and buses going by, you run the risk of it just collapsing which is unacceptable.”
Though plans for phase two were not available, the original plan drafted in 2003 reports that the DOT was not looking to make any drastic changes to the area.
“The existing grades are either maintained or limited to an average proposed grade change of 12 inches, in order to ensure minimal impact on properties located along the northerly and southerly approaches to the bridge,” the report read.
The report also estimated construction would take about two years to accomplish.