Kosciuszko Bridge (New York City)

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This article is about the bridge carrying Interstate 278 over the Newtown Creek in New York City. For the twin bridges carrying Interstate 87 over the Mohawk River in upstate New York, see Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge.
A view of the new and old Kosciuszko bridges in August 2016. Deck hanging has just begun on the new cable-stayed bridge in the foreground. The 1939-era truss bridge can be seen directly behind it.

The Kosciuszko Bridge /ˌkɒziˈɒsk, ˌkɒʒiˈɒʃk/[1] 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. Both bridges are a part of Interstate 278, which is also locally known as the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway or BQE. They are the only bridges over Newtown Creek that is not a drawbridge.

All traffic currently uses the older bridge, a truss bridge that opened in 1939. This truss bridge carries six lanes of traffic (three in each direction). In 2014, a contract was awarded and work begun to build one of two replacement bridges with more capacity. The new bridges will have the same name as the original bridge.

The first of the new bridges is a cable-stayed bridge that will replace the existing bridge. This bridge, which is being built south of the old truss bridge, will open in 2017, also with three lanes in each direction. Once the old bridge is demolished by 2018, 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.

Original bridge[edit]

Kosciuszko Bridge
Kosciusko bridge from up Newtown Creek jeh.jpg
The bridge as seen from the upstream Queens side
Coordinates 40°43′40″N 73°55′45″W / 40.7277°N 73.9291°W / 40.7277; -73.9291Coordinates: 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 2017 (projected)
Statistics
Daily traffic 181,783 (2008)[2]
Kosciuszko Bridge is located in New York City
Kosciuszko Bridge
Kosciuszko Bridge
Location in New York City
Kosciuszko Bridge is located in New York
Kosciuszko Bridge
Kosciuszko Bridge
Location in New York City
Kosciuszko Bridge is located in the US
Kosciuszko Bridge
Kosciuszko Bridge
Location in New York City

The Kosciuszko Bridge, originally referred to as the Meeker Avenue Bridge, opened on August 23, 1939.[3][4] It was built at a cost of $6 million[5] to $13 million[3] (equal to between $103,000,000 and $224,000,000 in current dollars).[6] 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.[4] 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."[4] Until 1888, the bridge was operated by private companies and then after became the property of the people[4] 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.[4]

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.[4] The earlier was a swing drawbridge and carried a two-lane roadway 20-ft wide and two sidewalks.[4] The new bridge carried two three-lane concrete roadways each 32-ft wide and separated by a 4-foot center mall.[4] Additionally, this new bridge structure contains 16,315 tons of steel, along 88,120 cubic yards of concrete masonry.[4]

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.[7] In 1938, he completed his task of building a cofferdam, a box-like structure made of 250 steel sheets.[7] 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.[7] One of the tools he worked with was an underwater-operated cutting torch, which burned oxygen, hydrogen, and compressed air.[7]

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.[5] 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.[8][9][3] 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.[8][5] There were parades at both ends of the bridge, and La Guardia also unveiled plaques that commemorated the new name.[5] 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."[8] Two of the bridge towers were surmounted with eagles, one with the Polish eagle and the other the American eagle.[10]

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
Clearance below 95 feet (29 m)
History
Opened 2017 (eastbound)
2020 (westbound)
Kosciuszko Bridge is located in New York City
Kosciuszko Bridge
Kosciuszko Bridge
Location in New York City
Kosciuszko Bridge is located in New York
Kosciuszko Bridge
Kosciuszko Bridge
Location in New York City
Kosciuszko Bridge is located in the US
Kosciuszko Bridge
Kosciuszko Bridge
Location in New York City

After an 18-month study in the 1990s, 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.[11] This new bridge would be part of a renovation project planned for the entire crossing.[11] 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.[11] King felt that in order to resolve the increasing number of severely congested streets and intersections, "a second parallel span" may be the answer.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13] The cable-stayed bridge design selected after a public review process will make the replacement bridge the first of its type in New York City since the Brooklyn Bridge (which has a hybrid suspension/cable-stayed design). Construction was originally expected to begin in 2013[14] 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 is complete.[15]

June 2016, two pylons built

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.[16][17] It is the largest single contract ever awarded by the New York State Department of Transportation. The work will involve building a new eastbound viaduct to be completed in 2016; the existing eastbound structure will then be demolished. The westbound viaduct will be replaced in a future project.[18] The extra lanes 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."[13]

On December 4, work began on the 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.[19] By August 2015, the two pylons for the eastbound bridge, as well as part of the bridge structure, were under construction.[20] The new eastbound bridge is expected to open in spring 2017, ahead of schedule.[21] At that time, all traffic will be shifted to the new bridge so the original structure can be demolished and replaced with the new westbound bridge.[22]

Controversy[edit]

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.[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kosciuszko Bridge Project Open House, Introduction on YouTube
  2. ^ "New York City Bridge Traffic Volumes 2008" (PDF). New York City Department of Transportation. March 2010. p. 97. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 
  3. ^ a b c "Mayor Opens Span With Peace Plea". The New York Times. August 24, 1939. p. 25. Retrieved 2017-02-18. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Anonymous. "Meeker Avenue Bridge Opened." Queens Borough. August 1939.
  5. ^ a b c d "Kosciuszko Bridge Named by Mayor for Hero of 1776". Brooklyn Eagle. 1940-09-23. Retrieved 2016-12-27 – via newspapers.com. 
  6. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  7. ^ 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. 11 OCT. 1938.
  8. ^ a b c "Kosciuszko Bridge is Named by Mayor". The New York Times. September 23, 1940. p. 19. Retrieved 2017-02-18. 
  9. ^ Mooney, Jake (February 13, 2009). "Plans and Wary Neighbors for an Icon of Gridlock". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-15. 
  10. ^ Rafferty, Brian (April 5, 2007). "Bridge Plan Up For Public Approval". Queens Tribune via reprint in the wirednewyork.com Thread: Kosciuszko Bridge. Retrieved 2015-04-24. 
  11. ^ a b c d Strong, Otto (May 25, 1995). "$100M Bridge Relief?". Newsday. 
  12. ^ Angelos, James (April 10, 2009). "Uneasily Contemplating the Arrival of a Spiffy Newcomer". The New York Times. Retrieved June 29, 2009. 
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ 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. 
  16. ^ "Check Out These Renderings for the New Kosciuszko Bridge". Curbed NY. 
  17. ^ "This is What the Kosciuszko Bridge Could Look Like". DNAinfo New York. 
  18. ^ "Kosciuszko Bridge Project root page". NYSDOT. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ "Key August 2015 Construction Activities" (PDF). dot.ny.gov. August 2015. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  21. ^ Barca, Christopher (January 12, 2017). "Kosciuszko Bridge coming along quick". Queens Chronicle. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  22. ^ "Coming in Early 2017 New Kosciuszko Bridge" (PDF). dot.ny.gov. Spring 2016. Retrieved February 18, 2017. 
  23. ^ 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]