Today’s news:

Guv Woes? No! K-Bridge A Go-Go.

Kosciuszko Bridge plans are moving forward.

Less than two days after Governor David Paterson announced that the state may not have enough money to pay for bridge repairs, state Department of Transportation (DOT) officials rebuffed the suggestion, moving forward with the design phase of the new 1.1 mile bridge that will connect Brooklyn to Queens.

Earlier this week, Paterson indicated that the estimated $403.9 million for repairs to the bridge span would be too costly for the state to afford, after the state DOT released its five-year capital plan earlier this month.On October 15, Paterson released his own two-year $5 billion Deficit Reduction Plan.

“During a time of uncommon difficulty, we need to work together for the common good and enact a consensus plan that helps us avoid the severe consequences faced by other states that failed to swiftly address their budget problems,” said Paterson. “This will mean hard and painful choices, but that is exactly the type of leadership New Yorkers deserve from their public officials.”

At a Kosciuszko Bridge Stakeholders Advisory Committee meeting on October 22 at Hunters Point Plaza in Queens, state transportation officials reassured community members that planning and construction would go on as scheduled and is expected to be completed by 2017, replacing the old bridge.

“This project is 80 percent funded by the federal government,” said DOT spokespersonAdam Levine, who noted the project was at the beginning of the design phase. “We are under no indication that this project will be delayed and we have every expectation that it will proceed in four years on schedule.”

Built in 1939, the Kosciuszko Bridge is part of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, connecting Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Long Island City, Queens. After the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge in Minneapolis, then-Governor Eliot Spitzer ordered every bridge in New York to be inspected.The Kosciuszko Bridge was found to be structurally sound but in need of maintenance.Two years later, the General Contractors Association rated bridges throughout New York City and found that the Kosciuszko Bridge was in the poorest condition of any elevated bridge in the five boroughs.

“We are out there on a regular basis, more than we would like,” said Leivne.“We don’t want to come back fixing pavement, replacing steel, and making other repairs.”

As if to demonstrate their confidence in the project, state transportation engineers unveiled six sample designs for the new Kosciuszko Bridge for members of the Stakeholders Advisory Council (SAC) to choose from.The designs for the new main span ranged in elevation and style, from a simple box girder design to a steel crescent arch reminiscent of the Bayonne Bridge, to a long-span cable-stayed bridge.

Community members who attended the SAC meeting brushed off the Governor’s budget warnings and chose their favorite designs.The top choice a short-span cable-stayed bridge that resembled Boston’s Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, followed by a concrete deck arch and a thru arch design.

“I like this one,” said SAC member Christine Holowacz, referring to the short-span design.“This is something more interesting, finally.”

State DOT officials will hold another public meeting in January 2010 featuring the committee’s top three bridge choices and cost estimates for each design.

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