The intersection of Fresh Pond Road and Metropolitan Avenue, which serves as the gateway to 3 towns – Middle Village, Maspeth and Ridgewood – looked like what one would expect the intersection of two major thoroughfares to look like in the 1940s. What has happened to it in recent years is a crime.
February 1999: “The New York City Department of Transportation proposed the reconstruction of the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge, which spans the right-of-way of the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) Montauk Division where Metropolitan Avenue intersects Fresh Pond Road. The subject bridge, which supports portions of Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road, also supports a portion of Block 2770, Lot 1 which is occupied by a gasoline service station. DOT proposed to acquire this 9,784 square foot lot. Additionally, portions of Block 2747, Lots 85 and 94 would be affected by the construction.” – City Planning Commission report
October 2000: An interagency conference was held and no agency or utility objected to the proposal.
September 2002: “There are no schematics yet, but plans are about 90 percent complete for the revamp of the Metropolitan Avenue/Fresh Pond Road Bridge over the LIRR. Work will start in May 2004 and will reduce drivers to using one lane in each direction. The project has a $17.5 million price tag, but CB 5 member Vito Maranzano predicted that it will cost more as it might involve taking over some properties.” – Times Newsweekly
July 2003: Community Board 5 held a hearing and voted in favor of authorizing the bridge project.
November 2003: The City Planning Commission voted in favor of the project.
August 2006: The Mobil station on the northeast corner was condemned by the City of New York. Squatters soon took up residence inside. (The newsstand on the southeast corner had been leased from the LIRR and the business was asked to leave.)
September 2009: City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley said that the community will raise the estimated $10,000 necessary to demolish the newsstand, which had long been an eyesore.
December 2009: The MTA announced that it was giving permission for the demolition of the newsstand with replacement by a green space, but did not offer funding for it. The cost of demolition ballooned to $100,000 due to the suspected presence of asbestos. Crowley said she would ask the MTA to fund the demolition.
May 2013: The Juniper Park Civic Association cleaned horrendous graffiti from the LIRR bridge and the newsstand. Crowley told the Queens Chronicle that the newsstand will be demolished “within weeks”.
November 2013: The Times Newsweekly reported that Community Board 5 was expected to review “60 percent” design plans for the reconstruction of the bridge and the project was expected to begin “sometime in 2014”.
February 2014: The LIRR finally demolished the newsstand 5 years after Crowley’s plea. There’s no plan for a green space. The following week, the DOT announced that there would be “at least a year delay” in construction as DOT continues to revise plans for the project.
Will it just be a year this time? Or ten more?
In the meantime, we have blight on 2 of 4 corners at that intersection and metal plates in the road covering a hole through the bridge, protected by an ugly barrier. How much longer will that bridge be able to withstand the weight of traffic? Will it fall down before it can be repaired? Sadly, only more time will tell.