NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Construction on the Van Wyck Expressway has been going on for more than 6 years and isn’t over by a long shot.
CBS2’s Brian Conybeare got an exclusive tour of the project site, and found out when it might finally come to an end.
Project leaders from the State Department of Transportation led the exclusive tour of the $400-million construction site in Queens.
The entire 3 phase project is more than halfway done.
Phase 1 includes widening the Van Wyck from six lanes to eight, adding breakdown lanes, replacing five structurally deficient overpasses, and building two new subway entrances nearby.
It’s nearly two years behind schedule and $12-million over budget.
“We found some unexpected conditions down there that we had to address in order to to do that safely, and that delayed us a bit,” NYSDOT Director of Engineering, Harold Fink said.
Underground boulders, lead contamination, and more has gotten in the way.
Phase 2 includes a new wider ramp from the Van Wyck over the Grand Central to the Jackie Robinson Parkway and Union Turnpike.
While all the construction is happening, lanes can be closed, ramps shut off, and traffic shifted causing dangerous bottlenecks for drivers.
“It is bad, very very very bad,” one driver said.
“It’s been going on too long now!” another added.
The final phase of the project isn’t scheduled to be complete until 2020, that adds up to a decade of construction and construction related traffic delays.
“I have to live with it for another four more years, that’s ridiculous,” Joan Lewis said.
“Part of the reason is this is a very constrained area,” Fink said.
The DOT can’t close the highway so they have to do the work in stages, bit by bit, but said it’s worth the 10 years of construction.
“Definitely worth it,” Fink said.
Until then they are asking drivers to slow down and be patient, something they don’t have much of a choice about.