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Kosciuszko bridge can't span a river of red tape


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Crossing the traffic-choked Kosciuszko Bridge is hard, but tearing it down is proving even more difficult.


After a year of bureaucratic delays, the $630 million project to replace the aging span has hit another snag: getting an okay from Native American tribes who have long disappeared from the region.


The feds have refused to sign off on the project until the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans in Wisconsin and the Delaware Nation in Oklahoma are given a chance to weigh in, state and federal officials confirmed.


The two tribes once called this area home. The holdup - the third major delay in a year - has further angered Queens and Brooklyn landowners whose future remains unclear as officials try to figure out how to replace the bridge, which opened in 1939.


"This is just another holdup that keeps us in limbo," said George Kosser, vice president of Karp Associates. The company's Maspeth, Queens, plant is to be razed to make way for two new parallel spans.


Even more frustrating for stakeholders like Kosser is that the latest snafu should have been easily anticipated and appears to be the result of interagency bickering.


For six weeks, the feds have been mulling final approval to replace the Kosciuszko, which carries the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway over Newtown Creek.


But late last month, the state Historic Preservation Office notified the feds that "some ancestral land" of the two tribes may be affected by the project, said Federal Highway Administration spokesman Doug Hecox.


Federal law requires a Native American tribe to be notified when a federally funded project affects its ancestral homeland.


"They have to consult with us to find out if we have a defined interest in that area," said Tamara Francis, the Delaware Nation's Cultural Preservation Director. "Ordinarily this was something the state would do," Hecox said. "Simply put, the action did not occur, so we are now doing it."


The feds are mailing letters to the tribes this week. They will be given 30 days to respond.


Dan Keefe of the state Historic Preservation Office said preliminary studies show the waterfront areas could hold buried artifacts.


The Stockbridge-Munsee did not return a call for comment.


The feds were supposed to green-light the project by late 2007, but it was delayed by some six months when the state Historic Preservation Office said the bridge was worthy of preserving.


State DOT officials convinced them the bridge, rated the state's worst truss-style span, must be torn down.


February is the earliest it can now be approved, said state DOT spokesman Adam Levine. If any sacred Native American sites are found, they would be incorporated into the design, Levine said.



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Not to rain on anyone's parade, but that creek is the most polluted waterway in the country. If the bridge isnt replaced as it should be, a collapse would bring people, if not dead from the impact, into contact with said water, likely causing illness & death. All old truss bridges should be replaced with structures that are more easily maintained such as a concrete arch or cable stayed span. As for the height, i think the new bridge should still be high off the water, but maybe lower it a bit. If we keep cutting out our country's ability to have industry we will find ourselves in an even worse spot than where we are now economically. Look at what our rail network used to be vs today, and tell me if we are better off with wide highways & paved over tracks. i don't think we are, given our rail network is a joke compared to every other country, even so called 3rd world countries.


My 2¢


- A

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