Courier Life’s

Road work furor

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Though the end is now in sight, the sewer and water main project that has tied up 86th Street for the past two years continues to drag on.

The new projected completion date is now midsummer.

This has merchants −− who have already been hit hard by the construction project −− concerned, said Josephine Beckmann, Community Board 10’s district manager. “We’ve gotten a flurry of complaints,” she reported. “It’s very frustrating.”

Right now, work going on between Fourth and Fifth Avenue limits moving traffic to one lane each way. That is “a lot to bear for the local merchants,” Beckmann emphasized. “When one delivery truck stops, it blocks traffic all the way down the street.

“We were under the impression they were going to do double−shifting of the work,” increasing daily work hours to speed up completion, she went on. “But,” Beckmann added, “they’re not.”

John Logue, president of the 86th Street Business Improvement District, contended that, “The city is being totally uncooperative. The commissioner promised that the contract would be done in 18 months. The contract time was 24 months. It’s now 26 months, and the city has extended the contract till July 31st.” The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), Logue added, “gave the contractor the right to work 21 hours a day, but they’re not doing that.

“They supposedly have another five or six weeks of work between Fourth and Fifth,” he went on. “It’s going to take 10 weeks to do 1,600 feet of new road. It makes no sense.”

Also a sore point is the fact that the contractor continues to store equipment between Third and Fourth Avenues, “So we don’t have the benefit of parking on that block,” Logue complained. “They refuse to put the last coat of asphalt on it because then they would have to give it up to the community.” In addition, said Logue, equipment is being stored on Gelston Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway.

Another issue, said Logue, is that there are no traffic control agents on weekends. “Someone is going to get killed,” he warned, “because pedestrians are literally walking into the lanes of traffic because one quarter of the intersection is closed.”

Craig Chin, a spokesperson for the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), said that traffic agents were assigned during construction. Because there is no construction on weekends, there are no agents then, he explained.

Regarding the fact that the contractor isn’t doing back−to−back shifts, Chin said that “excavation work takes place during the day shift, and concrete and other work takes place at night. I think there’s a misconception that work gets done faster (by having two shifts) but it’s two separate crews, and they don’t necessarily overlap.”

As for the overall timing of the project, Chin noted, “Roadwork is continuing along 86th Street and by the end of July we expect the full roadway to be open for traffic.”

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