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Envisioning the Future The BQE Triple Cantilever Project

3. Skill Set Recommendations

3.1. Construction

The construction crew offered the following recommendations:

Construction Sequencing and MPT
  • Consider weekend closures of the ramps at the interchanges.
  • Keep lanes open at peak times.
  • Notify the public of closures.
  • Consider temporary directional closures.
  • Employ longer-term lane closures to shorten the construction timeframe.
  • Utilize temporary bridges to maintain traffic.
  • Examine detours; advertise well; utilize ITS.
  • Develop and utilize an IM system.
Innovative Materials, Equipment and Procedures

Incorporate innovate materials, equipment and procedures, such as:

  • Rapid setting (quick-cure) concrete.
  • Precast deck and pavement panels.
  • Prefabricated bridge elements.
  • Innovative equipment and materials specifications.
  • Micro piles.
  • Geofoam (for embankments).
  • Roll-in structures.
  • Composite fiber wrap.
Advanced Coordination
  • Coordinate with park construction; work with other agencies early.
  • Utilize the park as the staging area. Obtain the necessary easements now.
  • Let an advance utilities relocation contract.
  • Establish a utility corridor.
  • Place temporary noise walls in lieu of berms to free up areas for future staging.
  • Involve the construction industry in the design process. Pay for their services/expertise.
  • Consider contractor equipment placement and lay-down during design.
  • Use barges for delivering materials and for staging.
  • Use Pier 7 for storage/staging.
  • Have the DOT design the plan for MPT.
Contract Administration
  • Use incentives/disincentives.
  • Require critical path scheduling.
  • Schedule wisely regarding seasons and concrete placement.
  • Utilize design-build (D-B).
  • Incorporate a field change order (FCO) provision in the contract.
  • Promote partnering.
Subway Vent Building Conflicts
  • Investigate relocating or modifying the subway vent building - or go around it.
Subway Line Issues
  • Consider the location of the subway tunnels when selecting foundations.
  • Identify and address engineering restrictions early in the design process.
Brooklyn Bridge Options
  • Consider installing a temporary structure through the Brooklyn Bridge abutment.
  • Construct a temporary structure around the Brooklyn Bridge abutment.
  • Rehabilitate the existing BQE structure under the bridge without changing the design.
    • Consider replacing the beams of the Brooklyn Bridge with shallower ones to solve the vertical clearance issue.
Environmental Concerns
  • Require noise and vibration control.
  • Specify that the contractor use low-noise equipment.
  • Provide for real-time monitoring of the surrounding structures.
  • Monitor air quality.
  • Utilize low sulfur diesel fuels.

3.2. Traffic/Safety/ITS/Work Zone

The traffic/safety/ITS/work zone group focused on project needs and constraints in order to facilitate traffic flow and promote public safety.

The team noted the following traffic needs/issues and then proceeded with their recommendations:

  • Maintaining the desired number of full-width traffic lanes in each direction.
  • Putting traffic on Furman Street.
  • Rerouting traffic or changing local street patterns.
  • Using movable traffic barriers.
  • Studying acceptable traffic delays using Quick Zone.
  • Establishing an incident detection system.
  • Utilizing portable smart zones featuring cameras, signs and detectors on alternate routes.
  • Providing better traffic signal coordination on local roads for detoured/rerouted traffic.
  • Having an adequate law enforcement presence for speed control.
  • Consider closure(s) of the East River Bridges (ERB)/local street ramps.
  • Consider using Furman Street as a detour route.
  • Provide real-time traffic information.
  • Expand the existing network.
  • Use Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) to broadcast current information.
  • Use the 511 National traveler information system.
  • Use variable message signs (VMS) to display travel time and/or dynamic messages.
  • Conduct bi-weekly incident management meetings.
  • Provide around-the-clock tow truck service in the work zone.
  • Maintain detailed records containing pre-accident data, a history of the work area and the latest on construction monitoring.
  • Use highway cameras.
  • Monitor work zone safety.
  • Promote alternate routes.

3.3. Public Involvement

The team stated that an effective public relations campaign is necessary to keep motorists informed of construction activities. They based their recommendations on the "identify, involve and inform" pyramid:

  • Define the target audience, including:
    • The traveling public.
    • Local businesses.
    • Residents within the project area.
    • Civic and community leaders.
    • Elected officials.
    • The media.
    • Internal audiences.
  • Utilize outreach tactics such as:
    • Project brand/logo.
    • An 800 number.
    • Web site with two-way information sharing.
    • Door-to-door contacts.
    • Displays in the neighborhood and along the BQE.
    • Project newsletter.
    • "Dear neighbor" letters.
    • E-mails.
  • Provide information on both the NYSDOT and the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) web sites.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Establish a point-of-contact person.
  • Consider proposals for a public awareness program.
  • Use television and radio traffic reports.
  • Encourage flexible work schedules and working from home for commuters.
  • Take advantage of public transportation; increase bus routes.
  • Work with interested parties.
  • Celebrate project milestones.
  • Keep the public informed!

The team also noted the following barriers to implementation:

  • Public acceptance of the inconveniences caused by the project.
  • Traffic congestion and disruption to commuters.
  • Availability of alternate routes.
  • Local residents' concerns.
  • Truck traffic.
  • Politics.
  • Cost/funding availability.
  • Coordination among all interested parties.

3.4. Geometrics

The geometrics design team provided a summary of their ideas before detailing each recommendation:

  • Consider a stacked section within the existing ROW.
  • Construct a trench section on a new alignment.
  • Utilize an alternative or split alignment under the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Drop each bound one level.
  • Consider rehabilitation improvements.
  • Make operational improvements.
Stacked Section within Existing ROW
  • Stack the opposing travel lanes vertically; do not offset them.
  • Utilize a stacked configuration from Atlantic Avenue through the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Construct a 48-foot-wide section (three lanes plus shoulders).
  • Utilize either a cantilever or frame configuration.
  • Allows for construction within the existing ROW.
  • Improves horizontal sight distance.
  • Improves vertical clearance.
  • Adds shoulders.
  • Eliminates most substandard features.
  • Maintains two-plus-three lane configuration during construction.
  • Has a relatively low cost.
  • Requires a construction easement over Furman Street.
  • Necessitates a temporary eastbound detour.
  • Forces construction over traffic.
  • Requires reconstruction of the promenade.
Trench Section
  • Move both travel lanes/directions downward so they are parallel to or under Furman Street.
  • Construct a side-by-side typical section.
  • Start south of Atlantic Avenue and connect to the existing BQE "trench."
  • Go under Atlantic Avenue and Furman Street.
  • Tie into the existing alignment at Old Fulton Street.
  • Minimizes MPT.
  • Reduces construction time and complexity.
  • Produces a new section built to modern standards.
  • Keeps existing cantilever available for local traffic or alternative development.
  • Improves aesthetics.
  • Has no impact on the promenade.
  • Has potential noise and air impacts.
  • Requires ventilation for full lids.
  • Temporarily disrupts proposed park/phasing.
  • Has potential hazardous materials (HAZMAT), archaeological and utility crossing issues.
New Brooklyn Bridge Portal
  • Shift alignment one portal to the north.
  • Utilize a stacked configuration or split alignment.
  • Construct a new tangent alignment west of the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Utilize an S-curve back into the existing alignment east of the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Minimizes MPT.
  • Reduces construction time and complexity.
  • Increases vertical clearance.
  • Adds shoulders.
  • Faces historic impact issues.
  • Impacts the anchorage ventilation system.
  • Have to decide if/how to maintain existing ramp connections during construction.
Dropping Each Bound One Level
  • Construct the southbound at grade.
  • Move the northbound into the old southbound space.
  • Shift Furman Street and integrate into park development.
  • Construct a frame or cantilever section for the elevated northbound lanes.
  • Reduces structure cost.
  • Increases vertical clearance.
  • Adds shoulders.
  • Frees the upper cantilever for other uses.
  • Impacts the park.
  • Has a more complex MPT.
  • May not meet vertical alignment criteria.
  • Maintains the one-way operation on Furman Street.
Rehabilitation Improvements
  • Reconstruct the Brooklyn Bridge span to increase vertical clearance over the BQE.
  • Add pocket shoulders.
  • Add a safety shape rail.
  • Install a vertical clearance warning system.
Operational Improvements
  • Add a deceleration lane to the northbound off-ramp of the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Add an acceleration lane to the southbound on-ramp at Old Fulton Street.
  • Add a third lane/acceleration lane (southbound) for the Sand Street on-ramp.
  • Improve ramps' core geometry.

3.5. Environmental

The environmental group began by discussing key project needs, after which they focused on addressing environmental and permitting concerns in a streamlined manner, all with the purpose of accelerating the project:

  • Form a multi-disciplinary project design team.
  • Establish a project development process that integrates engineering, environmental analysis, agency coordination and public involvement into a collaborative decision-making process.
  • Conduct a comprehensive internal and external scoping process to:
    • Refine project purpose and need.
    • Delineate and map the environmental context.
    • Obtain agency and public input.
    • Establish transportation and environmental performance measures that will support environmental streamlining and stewardship.
  • Develop/analyze alternatives that meet the project purpose and need while meeting:
    • State and Federal transportation and environmental performance measures.
    • The needs of the regulatory agencies and the public.
  • Develop mitigation measures for unavoidable environmental impacts.
  • Document the project development process through/with the following:
    • Comprehensive project files.
    • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents.
    • Categorical exclusion (CE) or environmental assessment (EA).
  • Strive to satisfy as many regulatory permit requirements as possible as part of the project development process.
  • Address the following environmental issues:
    • Surface water quality and storm water management.
    • Traffic and construction noise.
    • Air toxins and equipment emissions.
    • Blackstone River Heritage corridor preservation.
    • Historic sites and districts.
    • Contaminated soils and groundwater.
    • Environmental justice (EJ).
    • Visual quality and aesthetics.
    • Riverine vegetation and habitat connectivity.
    • Construction waste management.
    • Detours through residential and business communities.
    • Night-time construction lighting and noise pollution.
  • Use a project design team approach that includes the following:
    • Project team leader.
    • Engineering group.
    • Environmental group.
    • Public involvement group.

All proposed work must not only address the environmental regulatory requirements but must also ensure that all parties involved (public agencies, contractors and citizenry) work together to complete as much of the permitting as possible in the early phases of the project. All work needs to address regulatory requirements. Limiting the environmental impacts, i.e., avoiding work in the river or placing new construction outside the 100-year flood plain, will help accelerate the project by avoiding possible permitting delays and unanticipated environmental issues.

Note: Since the workshop, NYSDOT has learned that the BQE "triple cantilever" and the Brooklyn Heights Historic District at the top are part of a National Landmark, which subjects the project to Section 110 review. In addition, the portion of the Interstate located on the BQE "triple cantilever" was part of the June 16, 2006, Federal Register "Preliminary List of Nationally and Exceptionally Significant Features of the Federal Interstate Highway System." NYSDOT anticipates that this portion of the Interstate will be included on the final list as well.

3.6. Structures

The structures team discussed the "realities" of rapid construction, saying that NYSDOT could obtain only two of three key benefits - rapid construction, high quality and low cost - and they recommended speed and quality. They suggested eliminating temporary bridges to help offset the additional cost of rapid construction. Their recommendations are as follows:

General Recommendations
  • Utilize self propelled modular transporters (SPMTs) for rapid bridge change-outs.
  • Consider horizontal skidding.
  • Utilize precast abutments and piers as well as prefabrication of the superstructure.
  • Consider complete bridge prefabrication, Epping prefabrication and/or superstructure prefabrication with continuity.
  • Construct mechanically stabilized earth (MSE), precast gravity or precast cantilever retaining walls.
  • Utilize materials that provide long-term durability, such as:
    • High-performance concrete (HPC).
    • High-performance steel (HPS).
    • Epoxy-coated/stainless steel reinforcements.
    • Weathering steel.
  • Evaluate all rehabilitation options.
  • Take into consideration the age of the structure.
  • Consider present seismic requirements.
  • Address funding limitations.
  • Evaluate environmental issues such as historic structures, views and noise levels.
  • Utilize night-time lane closures.
  • Allow full closure on some weekends (one direction at a time).
  • Close Columbia Heights for nine months, and provide temporary pedestrian access.
  • Close Furman Street at night.
  • Maintain pedestrian traffic on the upper deck.
  • Close the eastbound Brooklyn Bridge ramp for several weekends, and close Old Fulton Street to provide construction access.
Staging and Access Areas
  • Provide barge access at Atlantic Street.
  • Consider using the park areas for staging/access.
  • Obtain a construction easement through the Brooklyn Bridge Park.
  • Consider permanent easements.
Temporary Structures
  • Address cost concerns.
  • Utilize the area near 360 Furman Street and vent buildings.
  • Use park properties.
Structure Issues
  • Rehabilitate some structures.
  • Evaluate viable options for the triple cantilever.
  • Consider columns on Furman.
  • Locate the utilities under the footings.
  • Use prefabrication, either by the piece or for the total structure.
  • Tunnel under Brooklyn Heights.
    • Cost is a concern: the estimate is $3-4 billion.
Triple Cantilever
  • Convert the structure to a steel frame.
  • Locate columns across Furman Street behind the sidewalk.
  • Build without closures.
  • Discuss potential loss of cantilever "look."
Columbia Heights
  • Close the roadway for nine months.
  • Move the west abutment back, and keep the east abutment.
  • Replace the superstructure.
  • Relocate or reduce the size of the vent building.
  • Address issues with the old park.
Cranberry Street Vent Building
  • Try to reduce the footprint, or relocate the building.
  • Allow for minor widening of the BQE.
  • Take advantage of the additional options for temporary structures.
Old Fulton Street
  • Build a one-lane temporary bridge to the east.
  • Transition back under the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Address the poor geometry for high speeds; it is okay for rush-hour, low-speed traffic.
  • Consider closing the right lane during low-volume/high-speed periods.
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Updated: 10/27/2015
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000