From the Times Ledger:
Traffic will only get worse in northeast Queens while the MTA completes work on the Queens approach to the Whitestone Bridge, which will leave a lane closed for more than a year and the 3rd Avenue exit off the Whitestone Expressway shut down for two.
Commuting will be rough for nearly four years while construction is underway on the vital connector between Queens and the Bronx, but officials said at a meeting with Community Board 7 members and community leaders last week that the payoff will be worth the headache.
The bad news is that there will be 378 days of lane closures during that phase of construction and the 3rd Avenue exit off the Whitestone Expressway will be closed for up to two years while the work is underway, according to the MTA. For most of that period, only one lane will be shut down at a time in order to allow crews to replace the bridge’s 72-year-old roadway decking.
Although it will inconvenience millions of drivers for the next few years, the project is a necessity for the future of interborough travel, according to Ray Webb, general manager of the bridge.
The future of the playground at Francis Lewis Park below the bridge’s Queens approach has been a sticking point with residents. The existing playground will close permanently Sept. 22 and a replacement playground is slated to open to residents in March 2012, MTA officials said.