Va va voom!

July 2, 2012 Denise Romano
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An HOV lane is coming to the Verrazano.

The news was released when Metropolitan Transit Authority unveiled a risk assessment plan to replace the upper level deck of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge – which includes the brand-new HOV lane – at a Capital Construction Committee meeting on June 25.

The upper level roadway dates to when the bridge was built about 50 years ago. “The old decking will be replaced with a lighter weight but stronger orthotropic deck. Included in this project is the addition of a new seventh lane on the bridge which will become a reversible HOV lane,” explained Judie Glave, a spokesperson for New York City Bridges and Tunnels.

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This will be the first HOV lane across any of the MTA’s bridges and tunnels and will include a new ramp just off the Brooklyn approach that will directly connect to the Gowanus HOV lane. This means that the HOV lane on the Staten Island Expressway will stretch from Richmond Avenue just off the Goethals Bridge, across the Verrazano and onto the Gowanus HOV lane all the way to the Battery Tunnel, giving HOV drivers and buses a continuous HOV lane across two boroughs for the first time.

Prep work for the project will begin next year and roadway construction will start in 2014. It is slated to be completed by the end of 2017. The estimated cost of the project is $300 million, but there is another $45 million in “soft costs,” including design and construction support.

“Roadway lane capacity will not change during the peak morning and afternoon drive times during construction,” Glave said. “Using a movable barrier, there will still be three lanes into Brooklyn in the morning and three lanes into Staten Island at night.”

Brian Kieran, chair of Community Board 10’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, said that any type of upgrade on the bridge is a good thing, but he would have to look more carefully at the ramifications of an HOV lane.

“I am not sure how I feel about the HOV going all the way through [the boroughs]. There is a possible inequity at the toll station. Will it encourage vehicular traffic to travel that way [into Brooklyn] with no toll…and put more traffic on Brooklyn streets anyway?” Kieran commented.

He noted that when construction was done to replace the lower level deck, things went smoothly and it was finished ahead of schedule. “I would certainly support it [the upper level restoration] and I don’t think any commuter would oppose it,” Kieran said. “We will definitely spend a good deal of time when the community board reconvenes looking at the information.”

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