Today’s news:

Waterbury Avenue pedestrian bridge work almost done

The Waterbury Avenue pedestrian overpass is finally receiving permanent repairs and should be open in time for school.

On Tuesday, August 17, a prefabricated span was hoisted into place over the southbound lanes of the Bruckner Expressway. The structure is part of the permanent replacement of a portion of the footbridge that was destroyed when a truck hit it on August 8, 2008.

The bridge connects Waterbury LaSalle and Country Club at Waterbury Avenue, and is a vital link for people living on both sides who use the bridge to get to church, go food shopping, attend the North East Bronx Senior Center and reach mass transit.

State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer Post said that repairs on the bridge, which began in early July, should be complete by the time the school year starts. This is important because some P.S. 14 students use the bridge to cross the bustling lanes of the highway.

“We expect that construction should be complete by the start of the school year,” Post said. “The pre-fabricated span was brought to the site by truck and erected on August 17. We will be announcing a ribbon cutting ceremony for the bridge shortly.”

The state DOT put a temporary span into place at the request of Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, and Councilman Jimmy Vacca just before the start of the 2008-09 school year. Parents of students at P.S. 14 and community groups thought that the bridge was a necessity that the community could not do without for long. The temporary span has been removed, but the pre-fab structure still needs fencing and railings in order to be used.

Andrew Chirico, of the Waterbury LaSalle Community Association, said that the temporary bridge was needed because without it is difficult to access the other side of the highway. He noted that some people use the bridge to reach mass transit.

“Without the bridge, people from our side of the highway would have to walk up to Crosby Avenue and cross there,” Chirico said. “It would be a long way around.”

Country Club Civic Association president Marcia Pavlica said that she was glad that the bridge is going to be restored to the condition it was in before the accident.

She said that some residents use the bridge to go shopping at Foodtown at Bruckner Boulevard and Crosby Avenue, while others use it to attend services at the First Lutheran Church of Throggs Neck.

“I had become concerned that this was a project that was going to be forgotten, and that the state government would decide that we didn’t need a pedestrian bridge at Waterbury Avenue,” Pavlica said. “We are grateful that they are restoring the bridge.”

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