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Shuttered overpass draws ire

State Sen. Toby Stavisky (fourth from l.-r.) and state Assembly candidate Ron Kim discuss the long-closed bridge behind them. Photo by Joe Anuta
TimesLedger Newspapers

Two candidates for state office lashed out at the city Monday over a Murray Hill overpass that seems to be complete but has remained closed to drivers for months.

“This is a clear lack of accountability and responsibility by the city government,” said Ron Kim, who is running for a state Assembly seat in Flushing and discussed the ill effects of the bridge’s closure with state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone), who is running for re-election. Both have been endorsed by the Queens Democratic Party.

Kim was referring to a seemingly refurbished strip of roadway that runs over the tracks of the Long Island Rail Road between 41st and Roosevelt avenues. The project was started in March 2010 by the city Department of Transportation and slated for completion in January 2011, yet the road has continued to remain closed off for automobiles.

The sidewalks are open for pedestrians, and children have been playing in the unused roadway, he said.

But residents are wondering when the pristine path will be open, since the completion date posted on a DOT sign has been scratched off and the contact person listed under a description of the project is no longer answering the posted phone number, according to Kim.

DOT said the bridge will be opened to cars when work is complete, although barricades were removed for pedestrians at the community’s request.

Young Kim — no relation to Ron Kim — owns a store one block away on 149th Place, which also features a Long Island Rail Road overpass that has absorbed the traffic from 149th Street.

“Too many people got into accidents there because they closed that road,” he said.

Another resident said the vacant roadway has become a nighttime haven for drunks.

The issue is a city one, but according to Stavisky state officials need to work with all levels of government.

“Our collective voices are louder,” she said.

Stavisky is running in a primary election against Oakland Gardens businessman John Messer, who challenged the longtime lawmaker in 2010.

Kim is in a crowded race for the Assembly seat in Flushing in an area currently represented by Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing).

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

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