Kosciuszko Bridge (New York City)

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Coordinates: 40°43′40″N 73°55′45″W / 40.7277°N 73.9291°W / 40.7277; -73.9291

New and old Kosciuszko bridges in February 2017. New cable-stayed bridge is in foreground left. The 1939 truss bridge is behind it and right.
Kosciuszko Bridge (New York City) is located in New York City
Kosciuszko Bridge (New York City)
Location of the Kosciuszko Bridge

The Kosciuszko Bridge /ˌkɒziˈɒsk, ˌkɒʒiˈɒʃk/[1][2] is the name of two bridges that span Newtown Creek between the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, connecting Greenpoint, Brooklyn and Maspeth, Queens. The older bridge, a truss bridge that opened in 1939, is no longer in use and slated to be demolished by summer 2017. All traffic uses a newer cable-stayed bridge to the south, which opened in April 2017 and carries three lanes in each direction. The crossing is part of Interstate 278, which is also locally known as the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway or BQE. The two bridges are the only bridges over Newtown Creek that are not drawbridges.

The older truss bridge replaced a swing bridge called the Meeker Avenue Bridge, which connected Meeker Avenue in Brooklyn to Laurel Hill Boulevard in Queens. The bridge, originally also called the Meeker Avenue Bridge carried six lanes of traffic, three in each direction. In 1940, a year after opening, the bridge was renamed after Polish military leader Tadeusz Kościuszko, who fought alongside the Americans in the American Revolutionary War.

In 2014, a contract was awarded and work begun to build one of two replacement bridges with more capacity, with the first bridge initially carrying bidirectional traffic. The new bridges have the same name as the original bridge, and are both cable-stayed bridges that will eventually each carry one direction of traffic. The first bridge, located south of the old truss bridge, opened on April 27, 2017, with three lanes in each direction. Once the old bridge is demolished by summer 2017, a new westbound cable-stayed bridge with four lanes and a bike/pedestrian path will be built on the site of the old bridge, and the existing bridge will become eastbound-only with five lanes when the westbound bridge opens in 2020.

Original bridge[edit]

Kosciuszko Bridge
Kosciusko bridge from up Newtown Creek jeh.jpg
The bridge as seen from upstream Queens side, 2008
Coordinates 40°43′40″N 73°55′45″W / 40.7277°N 73.9291°W / 40.7277; -73.9291
Carries I-278 (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway)
Crosses Newtown Creek
Locale Brooklyn and Queens, New York City
Maintained by New York State Department of Transportation
Preceded by Greenpoint Avenue Bridge
Followed by Grand Street Bridge
Characteristics
Design Truss bridge
Total length 6,021 feet (1,835 m)
Longest span 300 feet (91 m)
Clearance below 125 feet (38 m)
History
Opened August 23, 1939; 77 years ago (1939-08-23)
Closed April 27, 2017; 25 days ago (2017-04-27)
Statistics
Daily traffic 181,783 (2008)[3]

The Kosciuszko Bridge, originally referred to as the Meeker Avenue Bridge, opened on August 23, 1939.[4][5] It was built at a cost of $6 million[6] to $13 million[4] (equal to between $103,000,000 and $224,000,000 in current dollars).[7] The new bridge replaced an older Meeker Avenue Bridge (originally called the "Penny Bridge"). The Meeker Avenue Bridge had been in use since 1894 and connected Meeker Avenue in Brooklyn to Review Avenue and Laurel Hill Boulevard in Queens.[5] The history of the old bridge dates back to 1803 and was built through an Act of Legislature, authorizing the "building of a Toll Bridge over Newtown Creek: this bridge charged one cent per foot passenger, which was the reason the bridge was called the "Penny Bridge."[5] Until 1888, the bridge was operated by private companies and thereafter became the property of the people.[5] In 1896, the bridge became the property of the city of Brooklyn and in 1898, upon consolidation, it was taken over by the Department of Bridges of the Greater City of New York.[5]

The original Meeker Avenue Bridge had been replaced several times. The new Meeker Avenue Bridge's 1939 design and form was vastly different than the first Meeker Avenue Bridge.[5] The earlier was a swing drawbridge and carried a two-lane roadway 20-ft wide and two sidewalks.[5] The new bridge carried two three-lane concrete roadways each 32-ft wide and separated by a 4-foot center mall.[5] Additionally, this new bridge structure contains 16,315 tons of steel, along 88,120 cubic yards of concrete masonry.[5]

One of the builders of the new $1,500,000 Meeker Avenue Bridge was John Kelly, of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, who was a former Navy deep sea diver and became famous for helping to work on the new bridge.[8] In 1938, he completed his task of building a cofferdam, a box-like structure made of 250 steel sheets.[8] This enabled workmen to operate and build an underwater pier in dry surroundings on the Greenpoint side of the new bridge; after that, Kelly began cutting away cofferdam bracings on the Queens side, at Laurel Hill Boulevard and Review Avenue.[8] One of the tools he worked with was an underwater-operated cutting torch, which burned oxygen, hydrogen, and compressed air.[8]

The city's government officially renamed the bridge after Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish volunteer who was a General in the American Revolutionary War, on July 10, 1940.[6] On September 22, 1940, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia led a ceremony in which he formally renamed the new Meeker Avenue Bridge over Newtown Creek after Kościuszko.[9][10][4] The naming occurred in the presence of 15,000 people, mainly Polish-American residents and city and state government representatives, some stating that the spirit of Polish liberty would never die.[9][6] There were parades at both ends of the bridge, and La Guardia also unveiled plaques that commemorated the new name.[6] In making an ovation, the mayor described President Franklin D. Roosevelt, like Kościuszko, as a "champion of liberty during a difficult period", referring to World War II in which Poland was occupied by Germany. He also stated, "I am confident that Poland will live again. Any land that breeds such lovers of freedom can never be kept enslaved. The Polish people may be captive, but the flaming spirit of Polish liberty will never be destroyed."[9] Two of the bridge towers were surmounted with eagles, one with the Polish eagle and the other the American eagle.[11]

Replacement[edit]

Kosciuszko Bridge
New Kosciuszko Bridge rendering.jpg
Rendering of replacement when it is completed.
Coordinates 40°43′40″N 73°55′45″W / 40.7277°N 73.9291°W / 40.7277; -73.9291
Carries I-278 (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway)
Crosses Newtown Creek
Locale Brooklyn and Queens, New York City
Maintained by New York State Department of Transportation
Preceded by Greenpoint Avenue Bridge
Followed by Grand Street Bridge
Characteristics
Design Cable-stayed bridge
Longest span 1,001 feet (305 m)
Clearance below 90 feet (27 m)
History
Opened April 27, 2017; 25 days ago (2017-04-27) (eastbound)
2020 (westbound)

The old bridge, which was only meant to serve 10,000 vehicles per day, ended up serving 18 times that amount of traffic when it became part of the Interstate Highway System. It was not up to Interstate standards since it did not have any drainage pipes or shoulders.[12] By the 1990s, the bridge was deteriorating and heavily congested. After an 18-month study in 1994–5, State Transportation Department officials concluded that in order to relieve congestion on the busy span, a new $100 million bridge, which included an additional three lanes, should be built next to the original six-lane Kosciuszko Bridge.[13] This new bridge would be part of a renovation project planned for the entire crossing.[13] DOT Supervisor Peter King stated that this new bridge may be required to avoid severe traffic backups on neighborhood streets surrounding the bridge during renovation of the Kosciuszko.[13] King felt that in order to resolve the increasing number of severely congested streets and intersections, "a second parallel span" may be the answer.[13]

In 2009, it was decided to replace the 1939 structure with a new bridge, which was to consist of a five-lane eastbound span, a four-lane westbound span, a bike path, and a walkway.[14] Four designs were considered for the new structure: a cable-stayed bridge, a through arch bridge, a box girder bridge, and a deck arch bridge.[15] The cable-stayed bridge design, selected after a public review process, makes the replacement bridge the first vehicular cable-stayed bridge in New York City since the Brooklyn Bridge (which has a hybrid suspension/cable-stayed design),[16] as well as the first major new bridge in New York City since the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge's completion in 1964.[16][17]

Construction was originally expected to begin in 2013,[18] but was then delayed to winter 2014. About 140 trees were removed on both sides of the bridge in April 2014 in preparation for the rebuilding, though officials say twice the number of trees will be replanted once the bridge's reconstruction was completed.[19]

On May 23, 2014, a $554,770,000 design-build contract was awarded to a team consisting of Skanska, which will be managing partner; Ecco III of Yonkers; Kiewit Corporation of Nebraska; and HNTB of Kansas as the lead design firm.[20][21] It is the largest single contract ever awarded by the New York State Department of Transportation. The work involved building a new eastbound viaduct, which was completed in 2017; the existing eastbound structure would then be demolished. The westbound viaduct would then be completed by 2020.[22] The new bridges are being built since the Kosciuszko Bridge is known as a notorious traffic bottleneck; according to The New York Times, it is "perhaps the city’s most notorious [bridge], hated and feared by drivers and synonymous in traffic reports with bottlenecks, stop-and-go and general delay."[15] The bridges would reduce delays by up to 65% during rush hours, as well as provide a new pedestrian/bicycle connection between the boroughs.[23][24]

June 2016, two pylons built

On December 4, 2014, work began on the eastbound bridge, which entailed temporarily narrowing the Meeker Avenue entrance on the Brooklyn side on the bridge in order to widen it in the long run. Work was to take place in the daytime, temporarily causing more traffic congestion.[25] By August 2015, the two pylons for the eastbound bridge, as well as part of the bridge structure, were under construction.[26] The 287-foot-high (87 m)pylons were sunk 150 to 185 feet (46 to 56 m), with each pylon resting on four foundations at that depth. After the pylons were completed, a supporting steel-and-concrete deck section called a pier table was built between the two pylons. The other deck sections were then built outward from the pier table, with two cables supporting each section, creating a 1,001-foot-long (305 m) deck supported by 56 cables in total. A 4,000-short-ton (3,600-long-ton) counterweight was built under the western section of the eastbound bridge since the eastern section was longer and heavier.[16] The new bridge was built to withstand a century's worth of traffic.[27]

The new eastbound bridge, which will initially host both directions of traffic,[28] opened ahead of schedule[29] on April 27, 2017,[17] with a ceremony attended by Governor Andrew Cuomo.[23] The bridge is the first of several bridges citywide to feature an advanced lighting system—part of Governor Cuomo's "New York Harbor of Lights" initiative—which would allow the bridge to display light shows as a tourist attraction.[17] At that time, five of six lanes of traffic were shifted to the new bridge, with a single lane of westbound traffic temporarily using the old bridge until the end of the month.[30][23] The new bridge kept the same name as the original in order to commemorate Tadeusz Kościuszko.[27]

In the summer of 2017,[31] the original structure will then be imploded so that work on the new westbound bridge could begin soon after.[32][33] The implosion process, in which Governor Cuomo would personally detonate the bridge, would save seven to nine months compared to if the bridge had been carefully dismantled. The new westbound span and pedestrian/bike lanes would be ready in 2020, providing the bridge with extra traffic capacity.[23][31]

Controversy[edit]

The nameplate for the bridge, on the Queens-bound roadway.

In 2008, it was discovered that two Native American tribes indigenous to Queens, the Matinecocks and the Canarsies, were not informed of the bridge replacement project under federal law, which infuriated them. The Delaware Nation, in Oklahoma, and the Stockbridge-Munsee, in Wisconsin, both originally native to New York City, were given a month to comment on the bridge project, in addition to the Matinecocks and the Canarsies.[34]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kosciuszko Bridge Project Open House, Introduction on YouTube
  2. ^ Dunlap, David W. (2017-04-28). "How Do You Pronounce Kosciuszko? It Depends on Where You're From.". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-29. 
  3. ^ "New York City Bridge Traffic Volumes 2008" (PDF). New York City Department of Transportation. March 2010. p. 97. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c "Mayor Opens Span With Peace Plea". The New York Times. August 24, 1939. p. 25. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Anonymous. "Meeker Avenue Bridge Opened." Queens Borough. August 1939.
  6. ^ a b c d "Kosciuszko Bridge Named by Mayor for Hero of 1776". Brooklyn Eagle. September 23, 1940. Retrieved December 27, 2016 – via newspapers.com. 
  7. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  8. ^ a b c d Anonymous. "His Mistake In Joining Navy Instead Of The Army Makes Former Flushing Man Famous As Diver." Long Island Daily Press. October 11, 1938.
  9. ^ a b c "Kosciuszko Bridge is Named by Mayor". The New York Times. September 23, 1940. p. 19. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  10. ^ Mooney, Jake (February 13, 2009). "Plans and Wary Neighbors for an Icon of Gridlock". The New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2009. 
  11. ^ Rafferty, Brian (April 5, 2007). "Bridge Plan Up For Public Approval". Queens Tribune via reprint in the wirednewyork.com Thread: Kosciuszko Bridge. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  12. ^ Barone, Vincent (April 26, 2017). "Kosciuszko Bridge opening signals new beginning". am New York. Retrieved April 28, 2017. 
  13. ^ a b c d Strong, Otto (May 25, 1995). "$100M Bridge Relief?". Newsday. 
  14. ^ Angelos, James (April 10, 2009). "Uneasily Contemplating the Arrival of a Spiffy Newcomer". The New York Times. Retrieved June 29, 2009. 
  15. ^ a b Newman, Andy (February 18, 2010). "A Tired Old Bridge Gets a New Look. No, Four of Them.". The New York Times. Retrieved September 20, 2014. 
  16. ^ a b c Dunlap, David W. (April 27, 2017). "3 New Bridges Rise in New York, With Looks That Could Stop Traffic". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 27, 2017. 
  17. ^ a b c Blain, Glenn (April 23, 2017). "Kosciuszko Bridge to make flashy Thursday debut, featuring Cuomo". NY Daily News. Retrieved April 23, 2017. 
  18. ^ Chinese, Vera (April 25, 2012). "Construction on new Kosciuszko Bridge to begin in 2013, a year ahead of schedule". New York Daily News. Retrieved April 25, 2012. 
  19. ^ Furfaro, Danielle (April 3, 2014). "DOT chopped 53 trees to save Northern long-eared bat Kosciuszko Bridge pain • The Brooklyn Paper". Brooklynpaper.com. Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Check Out These Renderings for the New Kosciuszko Bridge". Curbed NY. 
  21. ^ "This is What the Kosciuszko Bridge Could Look Like". DNAinfo New York. 
  22. ^ "Kosciuszko Bridge Project root page". NYSDOT. 
  23. ^ a b c d Fitzsimmons, Emma G.; Schweber, Nate (April 28, 2017). "New Kosciuszko Bridge. Same Old Traffic.". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 28, 2017. 
  24. ^ "Benefits for Drivers, Cyclists & Pedestrians". NYSDOT. 
  25. ^ Eli Rosenberg (December 4, 2014). "Reconstruction work on the 75-year-old Kosciuszko Bridge will create added gridlock on a major road leading to the span". NY Daily News. Retrieved December 25, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Key August 2015 Construction Activities" (PDF). dot.ny.gov. August 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  27. ^ a b Burrell, Janelle; Adams, Sean (April 28, 2017). "First Span Of New Kosciuszko Bridge Open To Traffic". CBS New York. Retrieved April 28, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Coming in Early 2017 New Kosciuszko Bridge" (PDF). dot.ny.gov. Spring 2016. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  29. ^ Barca, Christopher (January 12, 2017). "Kosciuszko Bridge coming along quick". Queens Chronicle. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  30. ^ "New Kosciuszko Bridge Takes on First Morning Rush". NBC New York. Retrieved 2017-04-29. 
  31. ^ a b "CBS2 Exclusive: A Sneak Peek At New Kosciuszko Bridge Span". CBS News. February 21, 2017. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  32. ^ Colon, David (February 22, 2017). "New York Is Blowing The Kosciuszko Bridge Straight To Hell". Gothamist. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  33. ^ "Controlled Implode: Old Kosciuszko Bridge Coming Down This Summer". TWC News. February 22, 2017. Retrieved February 22, 2017. 
  34. ^ Lavinger, John (November 18, 2008). "Bridge to a Troubled Past: Kosciuszko plans reopen old wounds for 2 Native American Tribes". NY Daily News. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 

External links[edit]