While there may be plenty of construction going on along the stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway running through Woodside, transportation officials say work is progressing on schedule and is set to wrap up by December 2008.
The massive project is now in its second phase, which includes reconstruction of the BQE between 61st Street and Broadway. The second stage began in the spring of 2005, after reconstruction from Broadway to 25th Street (phase one) was completed.
At a community meeting last Wednesday, the project’s resident engineer, Dhiaa Shubber, said phase two is about 70 percent complete and well within its operating budget of $123.5 million.
The current project is part of a larger effort by the New York State Department of Transportation in the spring of 2000 to “rebuild, reconfigure and improve” the expressway “in order to meet current roadway, bridge safety and operational standards.” The ultimate goal is to facilitate transportation in and around New York City.
Specific project goals in phase two include improving ramp entrances and exits, widening lanes and improving bridge overpasses across the expressway. Major bridge work at 41st Avenue, 70th Street, Queens Boulevard and Roosevelt Avenue will continue in the coming months.
Although construction has diverted traffic in some areas along the stretch, only a handful of community members expressed concerns about the project. Most asked transportation officials to make sure construction signage is up-to-date and that precautions are in place to ensure the safety of residents at busy intersections undergoing construction.
Part of the project includes the reconfiguration of heavily trafficked areas in and around the BQE, like the intersection of Broadway and 37th Avenue. The department is working to completely rebuild the intersection's island, which will also be landscaped.
Construction on the expressway itself includes repairs of retaining and damaged walls, repaving eastbound and westbound lanes and completing utility work to allow for electric, gas and water lines at bridge crossings and nearby roadways.
Shubber said transportation officials have been regularly monitoring issues that have come up throughout the process, such as rodent and noise control. Several noise walls have been installed or repaired along the BQE during the course of the project.
Construction will also require temporary lane closures along the expressway, although Shubber notes there are specific times when all existing lanes will be open. Those times are 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, after 10 a.m. on Saturday and after noon on Sunday.
In a separate construction project along the BQE, the department is working to reconstruct the expressway from Flushing Avenue in Maspeth to Sands Street in Brooklyn. Construction began in August 2005 and is slated for completion in December 2009.
For BQE construction updates, visit www.dot.state.ny.us/reg/r11. New York City is in DOT region 11.