Today’s news:

Construction to begin on Rockaway Parkway bridge

Get ready for the pain, Canarsie.

The city’s plan to replace seven bridges across the Belt Parkway will hit Rockaway Parkway on Sept. 20, but the Department of Transportation thinks the construction won’t inconvenience anyone.

“The entrance and exit ramps from Rockaway Parkway to the Belt Parkway will remain open at all times,” noted a construction bulletin found posted around the neighborhood this week. “In addition, one lane on Rockaway Parkway under the Belt Parkway in both the northbound and southbound directions will be maintained. Vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle access to Canarsie Pier will not be affected and traffic on the Parkway will not be detoured off the Parkway.”

The repair and replacement of the Rockaway Parkway Bridge is just another step in an ongoing project that began in 2009 and is expected to be completed in 2016. The Rockaway Parkway Bridge is expected to be finished in 2013.

So far, inconveniences stemming from this massive project have been light with traffic snarls spanning from the Marine Parkway Bridge to the Gateway Center mall at Erskine Street.

“There have been questions about the narrowness of the Belt Parkway, but I don’t think there’s been a considerable traffic delay,” said Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Canarsie). “Traffic definitely slows down over there.”

Still some don’t believe in the city will hold true its 2013 deadline.

“It sounds a little bit like wishful thinking,” said Neal Duncan, the president of the United Canarsie South Civic Association. “Traffic is accumulating already and nothing’s been done to the bridge yet. Cars are always blocked up there and there’s always an accumulation between 7 and 9 am.”

The city plans to replace the Rockaway Parkway Bridge lane by lane, bringing in new sections as they take out older ones. Other bridges slated for a super sprucing include Bay Ridge Avenue in Bay Ridge, Nostrand Avenue in Sheepshead Bay, and the Gerritsen Inlet, Mill Basin, Paerdegat Basin and Fresh Creek Basin bridges.

A city spokesman said all of the bridges were built in 1939 so all of them are long due for a retrofit that would make the Belt Parkway more compliant with state and federal standards.

When the bridges were fresh out of the box, only 20,000 vehicles crossed them each day, the spokesman said. Today, 150,000 vehicles use the spans daily.

“They’ve outlived their useful lives and must be replaced,” the spokesman explained, adding that the improvements will also “significantly reduce accidents” along the Belt Parkway.

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