July 11, 2018 By Tara Law
The president of the Long Island Rail Road announced Wednesday that the MTA will repair the 90-year-old Lefferts Boulevard Bridge, according to a spokesperson for Councilmember Karen Koslowitz’s office.
Phillip Eng, the president of the Long Island Rail Road, told an assembled group of borough officials at a meeting at Queens Borough Hall this morning that he had determined that the bridge could be rehabilitated. He said the repairs would cost about $1 million and would not take an extensive period to complete.
Eng, who was appointed the president of the LIRR in April, told the officials that money allocated by Councilmember Karen Koslowitz toward the project will pay for the repairs, Cohen said.
The announcement comes a year after the MTA said that it might demolish the structure. At the time, the MTA said that the bridge was falling apart and that it was unlikely that it could be fixed.
Members of the Kew Gardens community quickly mobilized and started a campaign to save the bridge. They argued that the structure— which supports a dozen storefronts— is a vital part of the neighborhood’s business district.
More than 5,000 people signed a Change.org petition demanding that the MTA repair the bridge.
After the LIRR announced that it might demolish the bridge, Koslowitz allocated $1 million to fund a study that would determine if the bridge could be saved. Now that the Eng has determined that the bridge can be rehabilitated, the allocation will instead go toward the repairs.
Cohen said that he was surprised that the repairs would only cost a $1 million but gave Eng credit for moving the project forward.
“The new president is a professional engineer, and he looked at this with fresh eyes,” Cohen said. “He came to the conclusion that it’s not going to be a big deal to fix the bridge.”
Eng had asked Koslowitz if the funds to fix were truly in hand, Cohen said, and the councilmember assured him that the money was indeed ready.
The MTA will now spend several months to prepare bids for work on the bridge, Cohen said.