LOWER EAST SIDE — The Manhattan Bridge will undergo construction starting next summer as the Department of Transportation replaces largely decorative fixtures it says have begun to crumble and fall, the agency shared at a recent community meeting.
The work, expected to last about two and a half years, will replace decorative elements of the bridge that have been flagged during inspections as in danger of falling, according to DOT representatives.
All four of the globes on top of the bridge will be replaced, as well as ornamental cornices, railing panels, and rosettes in the decorative archway under the bridge that have begun falling into the water.
The project will overlap with the L train shutdown and will likely require overnight construction, generating additional noise in the already construction-plagued Two Bridges neighborhood.
Residents of complexes near the Manhattan Bridge are currently subject to noise from Extell Development's One Manhattan Square, and three more massive developments are expected to begin sprouting up within blocks of that tower in the coming years, said Trever Holland, president of the Two Bridges Tower Tenant Association, at a Community Board 3 Transportation Committee meeting where the DOT presented the plan.
The DOT has been closing one lane at a time throughout the week for cleaning on the upper roadways, but that work is set to end at 5 a.m. Saturday, according to the department.
"We face the bridge," said Holland, noting ongoing construction currently plagues residents six days a week. "There's a lot of construction going on there and we have had a discussion with DOT about not doing overnight work."
But Joannene Kidder, the department's executive director of community affairs for the Division of Bridges, said ultimately the decision of when work takes place is up to the Office of Construction Mitigation and Coordination — and according to traffic studies that have been done so far, nighttime might be the only time the work can be done, since it will require closing a lane of traffic on the bridge's upper level.
"The traffic studies done do generally indicate nighttime is the only time we can have the lane closures," said Kidder.
A single lane on the bridge's lower level will be closed throughout the project, said Kidder, but work impacting the upper level will likely need to be done overnight.
"We just can't physically close the bridge during the day," she explained.
This is in part due to the impending L train shutdown, when it will be important to have the bridge operating at capacity as it absorbs excess commuters while the heavily trafficked train line is closed between Manhattan and Brooklyn for 15 months beginning in April 2019.
The DOT is currently working with the MTA to discuss lane closure in light of the shutdown, said Kidder, noting all the lanes should be open during rush hour during that time.
Kidder also noted the nighttime work on the bridge is not expected to be "particularly noisy," and assured community members the department will work to mitigate the noise by putting up fences and heavy blankets over the parts of the bridge undergoing construction.
The pathway used by pedestrians and cyclists will be narrowed in width by four or five feet on the south side of the bridge, noted DOT representatives, but use of the bridge by pedestrians and cyclists will otherwise remain unaffected.