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MTA wraps up 2020 with completion of major improvement projects in NYC

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The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) wrapped up 2020 with the successful completion – ahead of schedule – of major improvement projects at the Robert F. Kennedy, Verrazzano-Narrows, Bronx-Whitestone, Throgs Neck and Henry Hudson Bridges. 

In December, the MTA announced the new Tolls NY mobile app to improve E-ZPass account management. 

“Our workforce, our partners in organized labor and the contractors were able to turn the difficult conditions of 2020 to our advantage and accelerate projects while fewer people and vehicles were on the road during the Covid crisis,” said Janno Lieber, President of MTA Construction & Development. “These projects are great examples of how our team is never losing sight of safety as we work in new ways to get the job done more quickly and at lower cost.” 

“I am so proud of our employees who continued to keep themselves, their coworkers, customers and their families as safe as possible during the 2020 pandemic,” said Daniel F. DeCrescenzo Jr., President of MTA Bridges and Tunnels. “This year has been rough for everyone and our team truly showed their resilience and strength with the many projects and accomplishments at our Bridge and Tunnel facilities.” 

The roll-out of the Tolls NY mobile app this month allows customers to manage E-ZPass accounts, including checking their account balance, adding funds or setting up automatic payments. 

Customers can also pay Tolls by Mail bills before receiving an invoice, and view toll and payment history. 

As of the first week of December, the Tolls NY app was downloaded more than 350,000 times with a 4.8 rating in the Apple App store. 

A new ramp connecting the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge to the Harlem River Drive opened in November, a month ahead of schedule. 

The new ramp ends a detour through East Harlem streets that has persisted for more than 62 years since the Harlem River Drive's initial segment was opened in 1958. 

It is expected to avert 2,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions while saving daily commuters nine hours a year in driving time. 

On the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the MTA said it completed a critical stage of Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge deck reconstruction five months ahead of schedule as part of a major project to replace the upper level Brooklyn approach to the bridge from the Gowanus Expressway. 

The early completion of this work, which came in December, was another successful milestone  of the Governor’s NY Forward acceleration initiative along with the completed addition in October of a fourth lane to the Verrazzano’s eastbound Gowanus approach.  

In August, a project to ease Gowanus Expressway traffic by restoring two lanes Staten-Island bound from the roadway approach to the Verrazzano. This work stage, originally slated to take six months, was completed in three months’ time. The early completion of the construction marked an important milestone of the $143 million reconstruction of the Verrazzano approaches. 

A vital state-of-good-repair work was also completed in August that involved restoration of the pedestals and foundations at the Brooklyn and Staten Island towers of the bridge. Construction of the pedestals was originally completed in 1964. The summer completion was the first major rehabilitation of these critical structural elements, extending their useful for decades to come. 

Also at the Verrazzano this year, split tolling resumed in December in accordance with federal law and approval by the MTA Board. As a result of the change, tolls are collected in both the Staten Island- and Brooklyn-bound directions. The change is expected to reduce the number of regional motorists who had cut through Staten Island – estimated at 7,000 per weekday pre-pandemic. 

On the Henry Hudson Bridge, the MTA said crews completed roadway reconstruction of the Henry Hudson’s southbound bridge approach, in November, part of a 45-month, $86 million project to modernize the bridge. 

The project included replacement of the last remaining sections of the bridge’s original 1930s-era roadway deck, and removal of columns and toll islands from the former toll plaza on the lower-level roadway. The project was originally expected to be completed at the end of January 2021. 

On the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, the MTA said a major traffic safety improvement project at the Whitestone Bridge was completed in June, four weeks ahead of schedule. 

The new construction provides improved access to the Whitestone Expressway and Cross Island Parkway, a full-width right shoulder, new guide rails, a new LED roadway lighting system, and a new overhead sign structure. The project team finished the work in eight weeks, capitalizing on the lower traffic volumes during the pandemic. 

And in September, the MTA Construction and Development advanced a vital roadway replacement project on the Throgs Neck Bridge. 

Crews put new traffic pattern and moveable barriers in place to ready the more-than-60-year-old concrete roadway to be replaced by a new steel roadway that will improve the seismic and wind performance of the bridge. 

In addition to the many bridge projects, the MTA also celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, on May 25, the longest continuous vehicular tunnel in North America. 

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