Is This The Year The Addabbo Bridge Protected Bike Lane Actually Happens?

Is someone gonna do something this year or what? File photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Is someone gonna do something this year or what? File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Could the state and city departments of Transportation be finally bridging their differences?

The state DOT has confirmed that it has received  — and is considering! — a city DOT plan to convert the dangerous murderstrip of a painted bike lane on the Addabbo Bridge into a protected lane, raising the faint possibility that Streetsblog will no longer have to write annual stories about how the state and city can’t work together to fill a key missing link in the protected cycling route to and from the Rockaways.

“We have received the [city] proposal and are reviewing it,” confirmed state DOT spokesperson Diane Park, who declined to respond to follow-up questions regarding what the state review entails, how long it could take, and when cyclists might be kept safe from speeding drivers and psychotic Mister Softee vendors.

Though it sounds like a minor bureaucratic formality, the news is noteworthy because for years, neither the state nor the city would claim responsibility for safety on the bridge between Howard Beach and Broad Channel, which is state-owned but overseen by the city. All complaints to the city were referred to the state; all complaints to the state were referred to the city.

And conditions on the bridge have long frustrated cyclists, who now have protected routes to and from the span, where there have been 69 reported crashes since 2014. Worse, a line of Jersey barriers is already on the bridge, but in the wrong place to protect cyclists (see picture, top), who remain endangered by speeding drivers. As these archival photos show, for years, that line of barriers (left in both photos) has remained tantalizingly close to actually protecting cyclists:

Photos: Google
Photos: Google

According to the city, the plan that was finally sent to the state was guided by the Jamaica Bay Greenway Implementation Plan, a 2018 proposal that recommended a two-way, barrier-protected bike lane on the west side of the bridge. The plan also shifts the small curbside parking lane on the bridge approach off the curb and next to moving traffic, which better connects it to the existing two-way protected bike lane on 165th Avenue that was installed in 2020.

The idea guiding the city DOT's plan for the Addabbo Bridge. Graphic: DOT
The idea guiding the city DOT’s plan for the Addabbo Bridge. Graphic: DOT

Even before the city DOT sent its plan to the state, the outgoing de Blasio administration had listed the Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge (it’s named after the 1960s and ’70s congressman) in the Streets Master Plan as one of 54 cycling projects for 2022.

So Queens cycling advocates aren’t eager to wait any longer.

“Our state leaders must expedite and implement long-overdue improvements,” said Transportation Alternatives Queens Organizer Laura Shephard. “People biking to and from Broad Channel and the Rockaways need a safe, fully protected route — not an unprotected murderstrip next to drivers shooting by at 60 mph. There are no excuses for substandard infrastructure and the absurd conditions on this crucial route must be addressed by this summer.”

The state needs to sign off on the bike lane project because some quirk of history put the span in the state DOT’s bridge inventory instead of the city’s, even though both the city and the state paid to build the replacement for the deteriorated North Channel Bridge in the late 1980s.

It’s unclear whether the city DOT’s plan involves shifting the existing Jersey barriers to protect the existing painted lane or whether the city hopes to install another row of Jersey barriers — though it’s also unclear if the bridge could handle the weight of a second row of concrete barricades. (Perhaps that’s what the state review is for?)