Accident rates between five and 30 times the statewide average
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Kosciuszko Bridge is crumbling, and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce says the state’s move to accelerate a massive repair project is vital to Brooklyn’s economic growth. Groundbreaking on the new bridge has been moved up to the fall, a full 18 months earlier than originally planned.
This $800 million project represents the largest single infrastructure project under Governor Cuomo´s NY Works initiative, and roughly 85 percent of that will be federally funded.
A report by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan) found that the Kosciuszko ranked at the bottom of the list by the state during inspections, with an increasing number of traffic accidents and delays.
The bridge received 49 flags during its most recent inspection by the NYS Department of Transportation, 21 more flags than the 28 it received in 2007. Flags are issued when repairs are needed or conditions may affect the long-term durability of the bridge.
Traffic and accident data show the Kosciuszko to be among the slowest and most accident prone stretches of highway in the city. Due to steep gradients and high levels of traffic, the bridge has accident rates between five and 30 times the statewide average.
According to Maloney's report, the project will create thousands of new jobs, including 1,000 - 1,200 full time construction jobs.
"Repairing our city's infrastructure with $670 million in federal funds for the Kosciuszko Bridge is a win-win-win for commuters, construction workers and the overall economy,” Mahoney said in a statement. “No one wants to see what happened in Washington State last week happen in New York.”
A bridge over the Skagit River on Interstate 5 in Burlington, Washington collapsed on May 23, crippling the local economy.
"Brooklyn isn't just about the Brooklyn Bridge,” said Carlo A. Scissura, President and CEO of Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. “Linking Greenpoint to Queens, a new Kosciuszko Bridge is vital for Brooklyn's economic growth and would create thousands of new jobs in the process. A new bridge would also link several of New York City's fastest-growing communities and relieve traffic back-ups that can be felt all the way in Sunset Park and Astoria.”
According to Transportation for America’s 2011 State of Our Nation’s Bridges report, more than 30 bridges and overpasses in Brooklyn were rated “structurally insufficient” according to government standards. (See the Brooklyn Eagle's article “How Safe Are Brooklyn’s Bridges?”)