Monday, May 11, 2009
By MAURA YATES
STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A ride along the Brooklyn-bound Staten Island Expressway between Bradley Avenue and Todt Hill Road has always seemed like driving through molasses, between the uphill crawl and the clog of cars coming and going on poorly placed exit and entrance ramps.
Now it feels like driving through molasses that's stuck to a washboard.
A long line of badly patched potholes forms a tire-width strip along the right and middle lanes, roughly between exits 11 and 12.
The spot happens to be the place where the most difficult traffic backups tend to form during morning rush hours and at any time there's slightly elevated traffic volume.
"It is God awful," said State Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn), who thought she was going to blow a tire on her way back from Albany last week. Ms. Savino said she plans to push for expediting the work. The state Department of Transportation, which administers the highway, said work on several milling and paving projects should begin in early July.
According to the DOT, engineers believed they could buy some more time before fixes for the Expressway were necessary, so they could address other higher priority work, including recent projects on the Korean War Veterans Parkway and the West Shore Expressway, as well as near the Outerbridge Crossing.
But the tougher than expected winter ravaged the Staten Island Expressway and made the truck tire damage worse than expected.
Sen. Savino said she will reach out to the DOT to see why the wait for a fix will take so long.
A DOT spokesman said a contractor is on board to handle the milling and paving work, and a New Jersey asphalt plant is now preparing to stockpile materials needed to get the job done.
From now until the work starts, drivers are going to keep getting knocked around. In addition to the hill that slows traffic to form the phenomenon knows as the "Bradley Avenue Backup," "when you're hitting those bumps, it can make a bad situation even worse," said Joe Scalici of Rosebank, who described that stretch of highway as being "in pretty bad shape."
The work planned by the state DOT will include the filling of potholes in both directions between Fingerboard Road and Slosson Avenue, and from South Avenue to the Goethals Bridge.
From Slosson to Richmond Avenue, the center and right lanes in both directions will be milled and repaved.
Then, all lanes of the Expressway, plus entrance and exit ramps, will be milled and repaved from Richmond to South Avenue.
And if you thought that was it for traffic disruptions, get ready for even more work in the more distant future.
The extension of the Expressway's bus/HOV lane from Slosson to Richmond is still on track to begin sometime in 2011, when a contractor will be selected.
On top of that daily experience, rush-hour drivers hit a double whammy last Tuesday morning, when an unplanned pothole repair slowed traffic going over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
A large crater possibly caused by the recent deluge of rain erupted at a most inopportune time, just before 8 a.m. in the right lane of the upper level toward Brooklyn.
A maintenance crew put together a temporary patch within just eight minutes, and went back after rush hour to do a permanent repair, to keep delays to a minimum.
Though road work is typically scheduled to avoid rush hours, the repair had to be made quickly to avoid any damage to vehicles that drove over it.
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Maura Yates covers transportation news for the Advance. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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