Painting Bridges & Parking By Curb Cuts; What Is and Isn’t Allowed

From the New York Times

March 18, 2007
F. Y. I.
By MICHAEL POLLAK

No Parking? Not So Fast

Q. A neighbor in Bayside, Queens, replaced part of his lawn with concrete to form a driveway wide enough for two cars. But the curb in front of this additional parking space is still about 6 inches high, and my neighbor insists that that section of curb is now a no-parking spot.

A. Sorry, but your neighbor is wrong.

According to the city’s Department of Transportation, only the curb cut is a no-parking zone. More important, we hope your neighbor checked with the Buildings Department to make sure the work met the building code. If you call 311, the city will send an inspector.

The bottom line is this: You cannot pave over your lawn at will. “If homeowners don’t account for adequate storm-water disposal within their sites, overloaded sewers and flooding can be a problem,” Kate Lindquist, a Buildings Department spokeswoman, said in an e-mail message. Homeowners who should have gotten a permit and did not can face fines up to $10,000.

Using fieldstone or brick over a porous base like sand or crushed stones will allow the water to drain naturally. But if your neighbor used nonpermeable concrete and the new concrete surface is 200 square feet or more, a permit was required.

Rainbow Bridges

Q. A question for the repainting season: Who picks the colors for the city’s bridges? And why are some bridges painted differently? The Manhattan Bridge, for example, is bluish, and the 59th Street Bridge is sort of tan and brownish.

A. It might sound like the bridge painters are just having fun with their paint pots, but in fact, different agencies have different standards and traditions.

First, the Port Authority. The George Washington Bridge, which the Port Authority controls, is covered with a three-coat zinc, epoxy and urethane gray paint, called Pewter Cup Gray. The Outerbridge Crossing is also Pewter Cup Gray.

M.T.A. Bridges and Tunnels, the former Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, paints its bridges what the agency calls Triborough gray, a light blue-gray, said Catherine Sweeney, an M.T.A. spokeswoman, who added that the color doesn’t fade and tends to blend against the sky. The color is believed to have been selected by Robert Moses.

The colors for bridges that are landmarks — the Queensboro and Brooklyn Bridges and several others — are decided by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

As for the other city bridges, Matthew Kelly, a City Hall spokesman, explained that the city’s Art Commission chooses the colors based on palettes kept by the Department of Transportation. Most recently, the Art Commission selected Deep Cool Red, the same color as the Hell Gate railroad bridge, for the Roosevelt Island Bridge during reconstruction last March.

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