BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Parts of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade will likely have to be shut down once repairs begin on a deteriorating section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, officials said.
Reconstruction is slated to begin on the 60-year-old highway’s triple cantilevered section — the three-tiered stretch that runs from Atlantic Avenue to the Brooklyn Bridge and includes the promenade — in the next five or six years.
The $1.7 billion reconstruction project would affect the popular walkway, which overlooks the East River and offers scenic views of the Brooklyn Bridge, lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty, according to Department of Transportation officials.
“We would like to keep as much of it open as we can,” Bob Collyer, the city's chief bridge engineer, said at a Tuesday night meeting. “If we need to replace pieces of the promenade, they’ll need to be closed.”
The DOT would look to close off certain sections at a time, instead of closing the entire promenade all at once, he noted.
Because the agency has yet to choose a design team for the project, it’s still too early to say how much of the highway would need to be replaced, Collyer said.
The DOT on Tuesday also presented initial findings from BQE inspections conducted over the summer.
The agency said the triple cantilever currently posed no safety risks to drivers or pedestrians, but that now is the time to start working on the repair plan.
“The good news is there are no immediate safety concerns. The main concern is the durability,” project manager Tanvi Pandya said. “Luckily the structure is in better shape than what we thought it might be.”
Initial tests showed the cantilever’s carrying capacity is strong, so it’s capable of maintaining the current traffic load.
But tests also showed the highway’s chloride content is high and its “freeze-thaw performance” is low, meaning corrosion will happen at a faster rate.
If reconstruction doesn’t begin in the next five or six years, there could be major highway shutdowns in the next 10 or 12 years, Pandya added.
The DOT also said it would be keeping Furman Street, which runs under the BQE’s Staten Island-bound section, open during repairs.
The agency said it is looking to keep traffic flowing normally on both the Queens-bound and Staten-Island bound sections of the highway during repairs.
While the DOT has ruled out construction of a tunnel to accommodate the highway’s current traffic, agency officials said reconstruction could involve building a temporary structure to carry drivers going in both directions.
“Nothing is going to be shut down, we’re looking to keep traffic flowing,” Pandya said.
A preliminary design for reconstruction is slated to be completed by 2019.