Today’s news:

Officials praise new bridges on Van Wyck

State Sens. Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) and Shirley Huntley (D-Jamaica) joined state Department of Transportation officials Friday in cutting the ribbon on the newly reconstructed Van Wyck Expressway bridges at Hillside and Jamaica avenues.

The bridges, where construction was officially completed six weeks ago, replaced the 50-year-old infrastructure that was put in place during the building of the Van Wyck. The project started in 2004.

Crews constructed the new bridges alongside the ones they were replacing, which allowed traffic to continue during the project.

The streets were only closed the week that the new bridges were rolled into place, according to state DOT spokesman Adam Levine.

The expressway is a major trucking line between John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports and the Long Island Expressway.

Smith said 160,000 cars cross the bridges every day, with 1,100 vehicles traveling across them during peak hours.

He said the $36 million state project "shows you the governor's commitment to infrastructure in the State of New York."

Huntley agreed.

"I am so happy the project is complete," she said. "I'm very happy that we were able to do this."

Dave Rosen, president of nearby Jamaica Hospital, called the project "an engineering marvel.

"Our business was able to be undisturbed and the improvement is a welcome improvement," Rosen said.

The new bridges are about 140 feet long — roughly 25 percent longer than the ones they replaced.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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