The crumbling bridge, which was built in the 1920s and is owned by the MTA, has fallen into disrepair after maintenance declined over the years.
For some time now, the community has been looking to stop the MTA’s plan to demolish the bridge and build a high-rise building in place of small businesses on the boulevard.
The business owners are also looking to oust the property’s current management, Zee n Kay Management, who they blame for corruption and neglect leading to the MTA’s plan. MTA’s lease with Zee n Kay Management runs until 2020.
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz and local engineer Al Brand had spoken about an alternative idea for fixing the bridge. Brand, a member of the Kew Gardens Civic Association, came up with the proposal for a concrete deck.
The concrete deck would be built underneath the structure and act as support so the bridge won’t need to be demolished, under Brand’s proposal.
Koslowitz wants to make sure the MTA understands the community’s concerns, said Howard Pollack, a spokesman for the councilwoman.
“The councilwoman made it clear that if they did fix the bridge deck, that the stores remain because they provide a critical, necessary service for the residents in the community,” Pollack said.
Natalie Reid, owner of the Thyme Natural Market, shared her concerns with Mayor Bill de Blasio at a town hall in June.
The mayor said the MTA needed to fix the properties, and his office would work on enforcing that.
“I don’t know all the facts about the bridge, but I do know tearing down the bridge would destroy your businesses and I don’t like that,” de Blasio told Reid. “We want to work to see if there’s another way to keep these businesses intact.”
Koslowitz recently arranged a meeting with members of the MTA’s Structural Engineering Division, Queens DOT Commissioner Nicole Garcia and Brand. For hours, the group walked around looking at the site.
Though there were some concerns, such as getting the clearance for the trains that pass under the bridge, the MTA representatives considered Brand’s proposal a possibility that should be considered, Pollack said.
Koslowitz's office has requested the MTA return sometime in July or August to have another onsite meeting in order to hire a consultant and determine the cost of the design and engineering for the new fix.
In May, the MTA stated that it would cost about $20 million to fix the bridge.
At a recent art workshop, local children and parents voiced their support for the bridge and the businesses on it. Dozens of children gathered around tables where they crafted signs and flags to support the businesses.
“Our intention has always been to retain the character of the community and to make sure that the storeowners, who have invested so much, stay there and the community benefits from them staying there,” Pollack said. “It’s a local town, that’s the feel of it, people love the character of their community.
“No one wants to lose this,” Pollack added. “No wants to see a ghost town with shuttered stores and multistory condos.”