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BY COLIN MIXSON
Downtowners living near the Brooklyn Bridge are furious to learn that a recent respite from the noisy nighttime renovation work on the iconic span will be merely the eye of the storm of sound.
Letters sent to area residents announced two additional waves of back-to-back construction projects on the Bridge, set to begin in 2017 — and last until 2022.
“We thought we were in the clear — until yesterday,” said John Fratta, a resident of Building 2 at the nearby Southbridge Towers residential complex, who received a letter from the city announcing the new construction on Apr. 27. “This has been horrendous.”
Work on the Brooklyn Bridge has focused on beefing up the superstructure of the aging span, which first opened in 1883. As with most major thoroughfares, most of the work is done at night, but since the bridge’s approaches cut straight through a dense residential neighborhood, the after-hours jack hammering leaves locals clutching their pillows over their heads.
“It was night work and you couldn’t sleep at all,” said Fratta. “Aside from the jack hammering, the other problem we had were the backup sirens off the trucks, the beeping, that was driving us insane.”
The “quality-of-life nightmare,” as Fratta described it, was supposed to have ended in 2014, but unforeseen faults discovered by workers during work extended the project until earlier this year.
When the nighttime noise abated about three months ago, locals thought the nightmare was over — until the other shoe dropped earlier this week, telling residents about the new work.
“It’s a surprise and a disappointment,” said Joe Lerner, a 40-year Southgridge resident in Building 8, who described work on the bridge as, “a never-ending novel.”
The first wave of additional construction is actaully yet another extension of the original work. Called Contract 6A, it will repair damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, and will include repair work to masonry along the bridge’s exit and entrance ramps. That project is expected to begin in June 2017 and finish sometime in 2019.
The final project, Contract 7, is designed to prevent the legendary landmark from sinking into the swamp it’s built upon. The work itself will include reinforcing arches and working on foundations to prevent the bridge from “settling” too far into the marshy earth underneath, according to the Department of Transportation.
That won’t begin until 2019, and won’t be completed until sometime in 2022.
Just before the news dropped regarding the new construction, members of Community Board 1 were devising strategies to reopen Brooklyn Banks, a pedestrian thoroughfare beneath the bridge at Pearl St., which has been closed for years to accommodate the renovation work.
Brooklyn Banks provided a quick and easy path from Brooklyn Bridge to the South Street Seaport, two populate tourist destinations.
Additionally, the world-famous Brooklyn Banks skate park is located beneath the bridge, and is currently off limits due to bridge construction.
“People were starting to ask what’s the process on getting those spaces reopened,” said Diana Switaj, Community Board 1’s Director of Land Use and Planning. “This really puts it on hold for a long time.”
“It’s not a new thing,” said Lerner. “If I ever wanted to work towards a pension, I’d work on the Brooklyn Bridge.”