With the removal of barriers, the replacement span over the officially opened to traffic late Wednesday afternoon.
The new bridge connects the portion of New Hempstead Road by the Rockland County office buildings with North Main Street. It eliminates a detour, which had been in place for months.
As vehicles started moving across the bridge, County Highway Superintendent “Skip” Charles Vezzetti said, “We’re a little ahead of schedule which I’m happy to say.”
The bridge opened a day earlier than officials anticipated. Work such as adding sidewalks and decorative features remains to be done but the span is open to traffic flow and for pedestrians, who had to use a circuitous route to go between the office buildings and New City’s downtown area.
“This was one of the key features of the project that we wanted to finish as quickly as possible,” said Vezzetti. “We’re happy that we got it open before the holidays.”
The opening date was pushed back from early October because of weather delays caused by flooding rains in June, Hurricane Irene in August and the nor’easter in October. The detour route, which had been in use for months, was closed as traffic began moving one way on the bridge and then in both directions. The detour will revert back to parking lots for the Chase Bank Building and the county’s Sain Building after the completion of drainage and utility work.
“When this project is completed, there will be a significant increase in the number of parking spaces,” said Vezzetti.
He said commuters and other drivers adapted to the detour route quite quickly and he expects they will accept this change happily.
“It takes a little bit to get adjusted to the transformation then everything works fine,” he said. “All in all I think things are going well for us with a minimum of inconvenience for the traveling public.”
The bridge installation and opening was one of the major pieces of the reconstruction of New Hempstead Road. Work on the two-mile long section between North Main Street in New City and the Palisades Interstate Parkway will continue through the winter but will be limited by the colder temperatures. Later this month, the former county clerk’s office building is scheduled to be demolished to eliminate the “s” curve in a hilly stretch of New Hempstead Road. The 28-month-long project will cost $28.5 million.