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Queens Chronicle

Complaints over slow bridge work

149th Street span improvements should have been finished year ago

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Posted: Thursday, August 23, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 10:28 am, Thu Aug 30, 2012.

A bridge replacement project in Flushing that was to take a year is still not finished over two years later and area residents and businesses are frustrated with the lack of progress.

Ron Kim, a Democratic candidate for the 40th District, and state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), who is running for re-election in the 16th District, held a press conference near the 149th Street Bridge to demand answers from the Department of Transportation.

“The sign near the project asks ‘What’s going on here?’” Kim asked. “That’s exactly what we want to know from DOT.”

The bridge, which runs over the Long Island Rail Road tracks, was built in 1924. It was considered in fair condition when it was inspected in 2007.

During a presentation to the Community Board 7 district cabinet in 2010, DOT spokeswoman Joannene Kidder said the agency wanted to replace it with a steel structure before there were problems. Work began in March of that year and it was supposed to be completed within the year.

Since then, the block has been closed off to traffic between Roosevelt and 41st avenues. The block is made up mostly of apartment buildings, a church and a few businesses, primarily Korean. But Kim said about 20 businesses in the area are affected.

“The streets are narrow and the area so congested that people don’t want to come here with the detour,” he said. “Business is down 20 percent.”

Kim believes the project has been finished but that the bureaucrats have failed to issue an order to have the barricades removed. “It’s done. Just lift everything up and clear the road,” he said, noting that the DOT opened up the pedestrian sidewalk in June.

Stavisky said it’s important to help small businesses “and it’s our job to do something about it,” even though it’s a city project. Stavisky indicated that many DOT projects get their funding through the state and that they are just adding their voices of criticism.

Paramjit Singh, who owns a home in the neighborhood, said the situation “is horrible and not acceptable.”

Kim indicated he has not gotten a response from the DOT. Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of CB7, said she did not know what was causing the delay and queried the agency without success.

The Queens Chronicle also contacted the DOT and was only told that the project has not been completed.

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