Ridgites can look forward to a protracted period of construction at the Gowanus Expressway’s Sixth Avenue off-ramp.
And, depending who you talk to, the work will either deliver much needed relief or do little to alleviate the problems at Sixth Avenue and 65th Street.
The reconfiguration of the ramp is part of a larger project intended to keep the Gowanus serviceable until a replacement for it can be decided upon and built, something that may not occur for over a decade. It has not yet been decided whether the viaduct will be replaced in kind or with a tunnel.
The portion of the project in which the off-ramp will be redone -- involving the stretch between Sixth Avenue and 65th Street and Third Avenue and 53rd Street -- will commence in 2010 and continue for five years.
In all, the work will cost $240 million, according to Brian Kieran, the chairperson of Community Board 10’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, whose report on a recent meeting with the state Department of Transportation (DOT) was read at CB 10’s June meeting by committee member Doris Cruz.
“The work includes repairs to structural steel, deck replacement, widening, paint, drainage improvements to lanes, and improvement to the HOV/bus lane,” Kieran wrote. “The work is described as ‘interim’ work. However, there are substantial changes and upgrades included.”
Changes planned for the exit ramp include widening it, “To reduce congestion on the highway from exiting traffic,” Kieran explained. This will result in the elimination of 16 parking spots on 66th Street, according to Kieran. The lanes to be created include one for left turns, and a “shared through, left and right-turn lane,” on the exit ramp, and a lane for right turns on the service road. Traffic problems at the base of the ramp will be addressed with traffic signal changes, according to Kieran’s report.
Kieran noted, “The benefits realized will be reduction in vehicle backups at the Sixth Avenue exit ramp. There will be less delay on Sixth Avenue and 65th Street due to signal control improvements.”
However, two committee members fervently disagreed. Bob Cassara contended that DOT could have found funding to continue improvements at the intersection. “What they want to do,” he asserted, “is make it a large parking lot. A tractor trailer coming down still won’t be able to make the turn. They are only doing it because they don’t want traffic to back up. They don’t care about our neighborhood.”
Allen Bortnick concurred. “What they are saying is drop dead,” he railed. “They have taken no consideration of traffic at that intersection. This will not cure the problem.”
But, while Cassara contended that the board “should really be pushing to do the right job,” both Cruz and CB 10 Chair Dean Rasinya reminded him that the board had already pushed. “We have put the pressure on and this is where we are,” Cruz stressed.
Rasinya recalled that the board had “taken a position” on moving one of the support columns at the intersection so that the ramp could come to a more gradual turn. “DOT took months and months. They looked at it hard. They came back with engineer’s drawings and said they didn’t have the money. I don’t know how much better we can do.”
Besides the work at Sixth Avenue, the project also includes alterations at the Shore Parkway interchange. At that location, said Kieran, “There will be an upgrade to the median which separates converging traffic. It will be converted into a reversible extra-wide HOV/bus lane,” Kieran went on, with the purpose of cutting down on “weaving of inbound bus/HOV traffic with Shore Parkway traffic.”
In order to reconfigure the interchange, the exit ramp at Third Avenue will be closed for two months, Cruz told the group gathered in the community room at Shore Hill, 9000 Shore Road.