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City updates CB 7 on construction of Whitestone Bridge

TimesLedger Newspapers

At Monday’s Community Board 7 meeting, residents got updates on construction projects in northeast Queens from city officials along with watchful residents.

Representatives from the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority took questions about the Whitestone Bridge construction that is currently underway, and other residents discussed violations at the RKO Keith’s Theatre.

Raymond Webb, general manager of the project, said construction is largely proceeding according to schedule, with construction crews currently drilling pylons that will form the future support structure of the break-down lanes that are being added to both approaches to the bridge.

He also addressed several questions about the planned two-year closure of the 3rd Avenue exit set to begin late this year. The exit leads into Malba Gardens and is the last one before the toll bridge.

“If you should miss the exit for some reason and end up on the bridge, we have a time-tested plan to turn customers around,” Webb said. He suggested that anyone who accidently misses the exit to contact toll workers to get back to Queens.

But CB 7 Chairman Gene Kelty was not happy with that idea.

“That is unacceptable,” he said, saying that waiting for traffic agents could tie up traffic on the bridge.

But Webb stressed that detours for both trucks and local traffic will be well-marked. Commuters coming east on the Whitestone Expressway would instead get off at the 14th Avenue exit and backtrack north along the Cross Island Parkway and Whitestone Expressway service roads. From the west, drivers would simply get off on the Cross Island Parkway service road and continue on to Malba.

Webb also said TBTA, or MTA Bridges and Tunnels, will be providing traffic enforcement agents at congestion-prone exits, including the 20th Avenue exit, to try and mitigate any problems that should arise.

Several residents from Malba Gardens, which is right next to the eastern side of the bridge, also wanted to know the results of a sound study conducted by the agency. The Malba Gardens Civic Association has been hounding TBTA to reveal what kind of sound-mitigating wall will be put up, if any.

Webb said the sound wall, which he estimates may be a height of 7 to 8 1/2 feet, has not been ironed out and will be built as part of the last stage of construction, estimated to be completed in 2014.

“We want a commitment from [TBTA] to see how our concerns are going to be addressed,” said a member of the civic.

Other proposed projects in Queens were also discussed at the meeting by attentive residents.

During the public comment period, Christian Kellberg, an engineer from Virginia, brought a model passenger jet and the proposed mixed-use building that is set to take the place of the RKO Keith’s Theatre. Kellberg filed a petition in January that halted the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval of the project.

Using a ruler, he demonstrated how close the planes would get to the building, which left some board members gasping.

John Scandalios, a Flushing resident who has declared his run for the seat currently held by Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), also spoke about the theater, and about numerous violations he called into 311 and subsequently saw repaired, including a hydrant without a cap and broken sprinkler systems.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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antonietta acocella from 14th avenue, whitestone says:
Very concerned for the very congested traffic all day long, and also during the night with a large number of big big trucks that not supposed pass through our residential area. We wonder if any releaf progect is under way for the 14th avenue between College Point and the entrance of the Cross island parkway on 148 st. whitestone, NY 11357.
June 30, 2013, 7:26 am

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