Since 2010, the bridge over the LIRR tracks has been barricaded and blocked off to cars.
On Thursday State Senator Toby Stavisky, Queens Borough Transportation Commissioner Nicole Garcia, Korean American Association of Queens President Paul Yoo and community leaders welcomed the opening of the new two-lane bridge.
“As I was driving down 41st Avenue and I made the right turn and I wasn’t greeted by barriers and construction equipment, I realized finally,” said Stavisky. “It’s been a long time, over six years, that the bridge was closed. It’s been six years of frustration, of meetings, of telephone calls.”
In 2010, the bridge over the LIRR tracks was closed for repairs, but in 2012 when the Department of Transportation inspected the finished job, it was clear that the bridge was unsafe due to shoddy work and it was closed indefinitely.
After years of trying to recoup the money the city paid contractor Ghandi Engineering for the work through various lawsuits, last November the city announced that it would just allocate the additional $1.6 million in funds necessary to repair the bridge.
“This has been a long time in the making,” said Garcia. “Today not only marks the end of construction, we are reconnecting a community.”
The bridge was set to open again in 2017, but with surrounding businesses suffering financially or going out of business, community leaders pushed for an expedited opening date. The bridge was finished six months ahead of schedule.
In addition to a new concrete deck, the bridge has received two-hour meters were installed on the bridge and surrounding streets to help local businesses concerned over lack of parking in the area.
Both Assemblyman Ron Kim and Councilman Paul Vallone said it is a perfect example of what happens when elected officials, merchants, city leaders and community leaders get together and work on an issue.
“During that time period, many small businesses did suffer, many businesses that used to be here are no longer here and I think we need to be cognizant of that,” said Kim. “Remember, not all roads lead to Manhattan. There are growing communities in outer boroughs like this that need our support and we need to continue to support them.”