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In search of federal stimulus
Brooklyn officials chase down their slice of the big pie

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From the Brooklyn Bridge to Grand Army Plaza to the Coney Island Boardwalk, it is raining federal stimulus money in the borough.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a multitude of boroughwide transportation infrastructure projects that will benefit from $261 million of federal stimulus money.

“Our commitment to infrastructure has been the largest in city history so we have not been waiting for outside help, but the economic downturn forced reductions in the city’s ambitious construction plans,” said Bloomberg.

“The federal stimulus dollars mean that we can move projects that would have been on the chopping block and get shovels in the ground quickly — putting thousands of people to work and rebuilding our infrastruc­ture,” he added.

Under Bloomberg’s plan, the stimulus money will be shared out partially among projects already scheduled to be funded and shovel-ready through the city’s capital project. That money saved will be displaced to free it up for other projects.

The biggest project in the borough that will get stimulus money is the upgrade of the Brooklyn Bridge that is scheduled to be bid out this spring. The project includes upgrading and widening the ramps on both the Manhattan and Brooklyn sides of the bridge and the entire span will get repainted.

Under Bloomberg’s plan, $47.2 million of the stimulus money will go toward the $382 million bridge project, freeing up more of the city’s capital money for other projects.

Also getting direct stimulus funding will be rehabilitations of the 13th and 15th Avenue bridges over defunct Long Island Rail Road in Borough Park, and the East Wood Arch along the East Drive in Prospect Park.

The $6 million rehabilitation of the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge over the Newtown Creek will also be paid for totally by stimulus money.

Among the boroughwide projects getting displaced funding -- money that was saved off other projects that got stimulus money -- are the $35.4 reconstructions of several roadways in the Brooklyn Navy Yard area and will also include water and sewer system upgrades. In this case, $4.7 million will come from stimulus money savings from other projects.

Similarly, $3.5 million of the $23 million Downtown Brooklyn streetscape improvement project will come from displaced money. The project, which is expected to bid out this month, runs along Flatbush Avenue from Tillary Street to Hanson Place and will include new street and pedestrian lights, an elevated landscaped median in the street, and new pedestrian crosswalk refuges at medians. It also includes sewer and water main upgrades.

Displaced money will also provide 100 percent of $15 million Coney Island boardwalk reconstruction project that will also be bid out this spring.

That project will include reconstructing the dilapidated portion of the boardwalk from West 31st to West 37th Street, West 15th Street to Stillwell Avenue, and Surf Avenue/Ocean Parkway to Brighton 2nd Street.

The $14 million reconstruction of the Shore (Belt) Parkway East 8th Street access ramp in Bath Beach will also come totally from displaced funds.

The reconstruction will address deficiencies and substandard features, bring the bridge into compliance with current safety standards, reduce maintenance costs, and extend the useful life of the bridge. The current structure is 67 years old.

The construction of this project was bid out last February and it is expected to be completed in Spring 2011.

Construction bids for this project are due this fall and work is expected to be completed in Spring 2012.

Also along the Belt/Shore Parkway in Brooklyn, all six steel structure bridges will see a replacement of protective coating at a cost of $6.8 million, all of which will come from funds displaced off other projects due to additional federal stimulus funding money.

The work for this is being bid out this spring and completion is expected in the Fall 2011.

Finally, half the funding, or $6 million of the $12 million, will come from displaced money due to stimulus funding for the reconstruction of the portion of Eastern Parkway running from Washington Avenue to Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Heights.

The reconstruction will improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicular traffic, and reduce the frequency of future resurfacing and repair work, which can cause lane closures.

The project will also improve access to several cultural, recreational and educational institutions, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Public Library, and Prospect Park.

Bloomberg said the total value of the transportation projects benefiting from stimulus funding is $1.1 billion and the projects are expected to create or preserve about 32,000 jobs citywide.


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