|Carries||12 lanes (6 upper; 6 lower) of I-278|
|Locale||New York City (Staten Island–Brooklyn), New York, U.S.|
|Other name(s)||Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Verrazano Bridge|
|Maintained by||MTA Bridges and Tunnels|
|Total length||13,700 feet (4,176 m)|
|Width||103 feet (31 m)|
|Height||649.68 feet (198 m)|
|Longest span||4,260 feet (1,298 m)|
|Clearance above||15 feet (4.57 m) (upper level)
14.4 feet (4.39 m) (lower level)
|Clearance below||228 feet (69.5 m) at mean high water|
|Construction start||August 13, 1959|
|Opened||November 21, 1964
June 28, 1969 (lower level)
|Daily traffic||189,962 (2008)|
|Toll||As of March 19, 2017, $17.00 (cash and non-New York E-ZPass); $11.52 (New York E-ZPass)|
The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a double-decked suspension bridge that connects the New York City boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn. It spans the Narrows, a body of water connecting the relatively protected upper bay with the larger, wide open lower bay.
The bridge is named for the Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano, who in 1524 became the first documented European explorer to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson River. It has a central span of 4,260 feet (1,298 m) and was the longest suspension bridge in the world from its completion in 1964 until it was surpassed by the Humber Bridge in the United Kingdom in 1981. It has the 13th longest main span in the world, and the longest in the Americas. Its towers can be seen throughout New York City and in New Jersey.
The bridge marks the gateway to New York Harbor. All ships arriving at the Port of New York and New Jersey pass underneath the bridge and must therefore be built to accommodate the clearance under it. Since 1976, the Staten Island end of the bridge has been the starting point of the New York City Marathon.
The bridge was the last great public works project in New York City overseen by Robert Moses, the New York City Parks Commissioner and head of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority. He had long desired the span as a means of completing the expressway system he had championed during his tenure. It was also the last project designed by Chief Engineer Othmar Ammann, who had designed most of the other major crossings into and within New York City, including the George Washington Bridge, the Bayonne Bridge, the Bronx Whitestone Bridge, the Triborough Bridge, and the Throgs Neck Bridge. The plans to build the bridge caused considerable controversy in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bay Ridge because many families had settled in homes in the area where the bridge now stands and were forced to relocate.
Construction on the bridge began August 13, 1959, and the upper deck was opened on November 21, 1964, at a cost of $320 million in 1964 dollars, equivalent to $2,471 million in present dollars. Three men died building the bridge, including 58-year-old Paul Bassett and 19-year-old Gerard McKee. The latter's death became the subject of a chapter of The Bridge: The Building of the Varrazzano-Narrows Bridge, a book written by Gay Talese.
Individuals involved in construction included:
- Senior partner: Othmar Ammann
- Chief engineer: Milton Brumer
- Project engineers: Herb Rothman, Frank L. Stahl
- Design engineer: Leopold Just
- Engineer of construction: John West Kinney
- Safety Engineer: Alonzo Dickinson
Fort Lafayette, an island coastal fortification in New York Harbor, built next to Fort Hamilton at the southern tip of what is now Bay Ridge, was destroyed as part of the bridge's construction in 1960; the Brooklyn-side bridge pillars now occupy the fort's former foundation.
New York City Mayor Robert F. Wagner cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony, which was attended by over 5,000 people. He was the first person to be driven over the bridge. The lower deck opened on June 28, 1969. The bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world (previously held by the Golden Gate Bridge) from 1964 until 1981, when it was surpassed by the Humber Bridge in England.
In 2009, all 262 of the mercury vapor fixtures in the bridge's necklace lighting were replaced with energy efficient light-emitting diodes, years before the rest of New York City started to get LED streetlights.
In 2014, the city began a major, $1.5-billion reconstruction project on the bridge, which is expected to take up to 25 years. The first phase, which costs $235 million and lasts until 2017, includes replacing ramps, removing the divider on the upper deck, and adding a seventh lane on the upper deck, which is to be used as a high-occupancy vehicle lane. After the upper deck is replaced, then parts of the lower deck will be replaced, but this necessitates the closure of the lower deck during construction; hence, the MTA opted to replace the upper deck first to add more capacity. The Brooklyn ramps to the bridge are also being rebuilt.
Varrazzano Bridge Memorial
The Varrazzano Bridge Memorial project was started by children and grandchildren of the civil engineers, architects, site engineers, technicians, and New York City municipal employees who worked with Othmar H. Ammann and his staff during the various phases of design and construction, from 1958 to 1964.
Researchers taking part in this collaborative project will conduct in-depth interviews with surviving participants involved in the conception and construction of the Varrazzano Bridge to compile an oral history of the architectural landmark. On November 29, 2018, a commemorative plaque, in tribute to all the people associated with the construction of the bridge, will be unveiled.
The bridge is owned by Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority bondholders who paid for the bridge at its construction; these bondholders are being repaid with tolls collected from vehicles crossing the bridge. It is operated by MTA Bridges and Tunnels, an affiliate agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Interstate 278 passes over the bridge, connecting the Staten Island Expressway with the Gowanus Expressway and the Belt Parkway. The Varrazzano, in combination with the other three Staten Island road bridges, created a new way for commuters and travelers to reach Brooklyn, Long Island, and Manhattan by car from New Jersey. The bridge carries more traffic than the Outerbridge Crossing and the Goethals Bridge, both of which connect Staten Island with New Jersey.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation:
- Each of the two towers contains 1 million bolts and 3 million rivets.
- The diameter of each of the four suspension cables is 36 inches (914 mm). Each cable is composed of 26,108 wires amounting to a total of 143,000 miles (230,136 km) in length.
- Because of the height of the towers (693 ft or 211 m) and their distance apart (4,260 ft or 1,298 m), the curvature of the Earth's surface had to be taken into account when designing the bridge—the towers are 1 5⁄8 inches (41.275 mm) farther apart at their tops than at their bases; they are not parallel to each other.
- Because of thermal expansion of the steel cables, the bridge roadway is 12 feet (3.66 m) lower in summer than in winter.
The bridge is affected by weather more than any other bridge in the city because of its size and isolated location close to the open ocean; it is occasionally closed, either partially or entirely, during strong wind and snow storms. Additionally, the bridge's two towers are the tallest structures in New York City outside of Manhattan, and are taller than the tallest non-Manhattan building, the 658-foot (201 m) One Court Square in Queens; its towers are also taller than the 604-foot (184 m) towers of the next tallest New York bridge, the George Washington Bridge. Because of the bridge's height, cruise ships and container ships that dock in New York City must be built to accommodate the clearance under the bridge. For example, the RMS Queen Mary 2 was designed with a flatter funnel to pass under the bridge, and has 13 feet (3.96 m) of clearance under the bridge during high tide.
The naming of the bridge for Verrazzano was controversial. It was first proposed in 1951 by the Italian Historical Society of America, when the bridge was in the planning stage. After Robert Moses turned down the initial proposal, the society undertook a public relations campaign to re-establish the reputation of the largely forgotten Verrazzano and to promote the idea of naming the bridge for him. The campaign was largely the effort of Society director John N. LaCorte, who in 1954 successfully lobbied New York Governor W. Averell Harriman to proclaim April 17 (the anniversary of Verrazzano's arrival in the harbor) as Verrazzano Day. Subsequent efforts by LaCorte resulted in similar proclamations by governors of states along the East Coast. After these successes, LaCorte reapproached the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, but was turned down a second time. The manager of the authority, backed by Moses, said the name was too long and that he had never heard of Verrazzano.
The society later succeeded in lobbying to get a bill introduced in the New York State Assembly that would name the bridge for the explorer. After the introduction of the bill, the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce joined the society in promoting the name. The bill was signed into law in 1960 by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Although the controversy seemed settled, the naming issue rose again in the last year of construction after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A petition to name the bridge for Kennedy received thousands of signatures. In response, LaCorte contacted United States Attorney General Robert Kennedy, the president's brother, who told LaCorte that he would make sure the bridge would not be named for his brother. (Idlewild Airport, New York's major international airport, was renamed after Kennedy instead.)
The bridge's official name was widely ignored by local news outlets at the time of the dedication. Some radio announcers and newspapers omitted any reference to Verrazzano, referring to the bridge as the Narrows Bridge, or the Brooklyn–Staten Island Bridge. The society continued its lobbying efforts to promote the name in the following years until the name became firmly established.
In June 2016, St. Francis College student Robert Nash started a petition to correctly spell Giovanni da Verrazzano's name on the bridge. The petition has gained support from politicians including Senator Martin Golden and Senator Andrew Lanza. The petition has also been supported by actors and celebrities Robert DeNiro, Tony Gemignani, and Joe D'Onofrio. The results of the petition are ongoing. On December 7, 2016, Senators Golden and Lanza sent letters to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Thomas F. Prendergast. They recommended that the bridge be spelled correctly; an MTA spokesperson said the agency is reviewing the letter.
As of March 19, 2017, drivers pay the one-way toll (paid westbound into Staten Island only) $17.00 per car or $7.00 per motorcycle. E-ZPass users with transponders issued by the New York E ZPass Customer Service Center pay $11.52 per car or $5.00 per motorcycle; a five-axle truck pays $92, or $56.80 with NY E-ZPass. There is a Staten Island Resident Program that provides a discounted rate of $5.50 to registered residents of Staten Island using E-ZPass. Holders of transponders issued elsewhere get no discount. All E-ZPass users with transponders not issued by the New York E-ZPass Customer Service Center will be required to pay cash toll/Toll-by-mail rates.
From 1964 to 1986, the toll was collected in both directions, until Staten Island residents concerned about pollution from idling vehicles called for one-way tolls. Accordingly, in 2010 eight of the unused Brooklyn-bound toll booths were removed in the first phase of a project to improve traffic flow at the toll plaza; the remaining three Brooklyn-bound toll booths were to be subsequently removed during the second phase of the construction project. On February 2, 2012, the last of those eastbound tollbooths was removed.
An urban legend has it that tolls were to be abolished once the bridge's construction bonds were paid off. In November 2014, The New York Times described the efforts of the Staten Island Advance to dispel this mistaken belief.
Open-road cashless tolling will begin on July 2017. The tollbooths will be gradually dismantled, and drivers will no longer be able to pay cash at the bridge. Instead, there will be cameras mounted onto new overhead gantries near where the booths are currently located. Drivers without E-ZPass will have a picture of their license plate taken, and the toll will be mailed to them. For E-ZPass users, sensors will detect their transponders wirelessly.
In 2008, about 190,000 vehicles used the bridge per day on average. In 2011, Transportation for America rated the bridge as New York's most dangerous, because of the combination of deterioration and the 170,000 people who cross it per day. The MTA responded that the bridge, which was the state's newest large bridge and its longest, was structurally sound, and that the bridge had passed its most recent inspection. The MTA attributed Transportation for America's results to a "misinterpretation of inspection records".
As the bridge was not built with a pedestrian walkway, non-motorized transportation is limited to using the bridge during special events such as the New York City Marathon and Five Boro Bike Tour. In 1993 the New York City Department of City Planning called for a footpath across the bridge as part of their Greenway Plan for New York City. In 1997 the DCP released a feasibility study stating that two footpaths running between the suspender ropes along the upper level, separated for pedestrian and cyclist use, would cost a minimum of $26.5 million. The MTA at the time expressed concern about the "safety and liability inherent in any strategy that introduces pedestrian and bicycle access" to the bridge. Recently, residents living on both ends of the bridge have lobbied for pedestrian access. In October 2003, Mayor Michael Bloomberg promised to look into establishing the long-awaited pedestrian and bicycle access. The Harbor Ring Committee was formed in 2011 to advocate for the completion of the Harbor Ring route – a 50-mile path around New York Harbor, including a footpath across the Varrazzano. In spring 2013 they began an on-line petition that generated more than 2,500 signatures, as well as an organizational sign-on letter with the support of 16 regional and local advocacy and planning organizations. On October 2, 2013 the MTA announced as part of its 2015–2034 Capital Needs Assessment that it would include a feasibility study for installing a pathway on the Varrazzano.
Signs at both ends of the bridge forbid photography and video taping; however, it is not certain whether the signs are intended to stop people from stopping on the bridge or ban photography and videography even from moving cars. Due to numerous suicide attempts, a sign that says "Life Is Worth Living" along with a suicide hotline has been installed on the Staten Island approach.
The bridge carries two local bus routes (counting the S93 limited-stop service as "local") and one Select Bus Service (SBS) route operated by MTA Regional Bus Operations: the S53, S79 SBS, S93 connect Staten Island with Brooklyn. The bridge also carries 17 express bus routes that connect Staten Island with Manhattan and are also operated by New York City Transit. They are the X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X7, X8, X9, X10, X11, X12, X14, X15, X17, X19, X31, X42.
In popular culture
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (February 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
- The bridge's opening is fictionalized as the "Amerigo-Columbus Bridge" in the 1966 "The Bookworm Turns" episode of Batman using news footage of the actual bridge opening.
- The bridge is seen in the 1977 film Annie Hall.
- The bridge is an important location in the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever, where it serves as a symbol of realized dreams and as a source of pride for the movie's Italian American characters from Brooklyn.
- The bridge is used as a location in the 1980 exploitation horror film Maniac.
- The bridge is featured in Sidney Lumet's 1981 film Prince of the City.
- In the special edition of the 1989 science fiction film The Abyss, the bridge is surrounded by a giant tsunami.
- Rap artist Method Man from Wu-Tang Clan references the bridge in the lyrics to his 1994 song "PLO Style".
- In the 1997 film Cop Land, the bridge features prominently in the opening sequence featuring Michael Rappaport.
- The bridge is featured in the 2000 film Requiem for a Dream.
- The bridge is mentioned in the 2001 video game Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.
- The bridge and its proximity to the open ocean feature prominently at the end of the 2009 film Against the Current.
- The bridge is featured in the final shot of Terrence Malick's 2011 film The Tree of Life.
- In the 2012 film The Avengers, superhero Iron Man flies under, reverses course, and overflies the bridge on the way to intercepting a nuclear missile.
- The bridge is featured in Microsoft Flight Simulator series and the Ship Simulator series.
- A similar bridge had been featured on Burnout Paradise and Need For Speed Most Wanted, but it changed to resemble the Manhattan Bridge.
- The bridge is mentioned in the lyrics of the song "Hover" by Rhett Miller on the 2002 album The Instigator.
- "Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (I-278)". Retrieved May 28, 2007.
- "Appendix C AADT Values for Select Toll Facilities", 2008 Traffic Data Report for New York State (PDF), New York State Department of Transportation, retrieved December 30, 2009
- Adler, Herry (November 2014). "The History of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, 50 Years After Its Construction". Smithsonian magazine. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- "After 10 NYC Marathons, Bridge Boss is Running Home". ESPN.com. Associated Press. November 3, 2006. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
- Ingraham, Joseph C. (August 14, 1959). "Bridge Is Started Across Narrows". New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- Talese, Gay (November 22, 1964). "Verrazano Bridge Opened to Traffic". The New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- Man Killed At Narrows Span. August 25, 1962. New York Times. 9.
- Talese, Gay (1964). The Bridge. New York: Harper & Row. pp. 77–92. LCCN 64-7832.
- Rasenberger, Jim (2004). High Steel: the Daring Men Who Built the World's Greatest Skyline. New York, NY: HarperCollins. p. 270. ISBN 0-06-000434-7.
- Fertig, Beth (November 21, 2004). "Verrazano Bridge Turns 40". WNYC. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
- Schumach, Murray (June 29, 1969). "2d Level of Verrazano Bridge Opens 11 Years Ahead of Plan". New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- "Verrazano–Narrows Bridge LED Necklace Lights Add "Green" Sparkle to New York Harbor Entrance" (Press release). MTA Bridges & Tunnels. October 29, 2009. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- Barone, Vincent (2015-10-15). "Decades of construction being planned for Verrazano-Narrows Bridge". SILive.com. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
- "Verrazano Bridge repair work brings lane closure until 2017". Brooklyn Eagle.
- Katinas, Paula (2016-03-26). "Verrazano Bridge repair work brings lane closure until 2017". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
- "Verrazano Bridge Memorial". VNBM. May 9, 2015. Retrieved May 9, 2015.
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- Guide to Civil Engineering Projects In and Around New York City (2nd ed.). Metropolitan Section, American Society of Civil Engineers. 2009. pp. 36–37.
- Barron, James (April 18, 2004). "This Ship Is So Big, The Verrazano Cringes". New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- "10 Peregrine Falcons Are Banded and Doing Well in Their Nesting Boxes". MTA. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
- "Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge". Italian Historical Society of America. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
- "Verrazano It Is, in Bridge's Name; Governor Signs Disputed Designation Into Law". The New York Times. March 10, 1960. Retrieved February 25, 2010.
- Associated Press (June 2016). "Robert Nash, a 21-year-old Brooklyn college student, has started an online petition to add the other Z to North America's longest suspension bridge". Crainsnewyork.com. Crain Communications. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
- Shapiro, Rachel (December 2016). "Lanza to MTA: Correctly spell Verrazzano on future signs". Silive.com. Staten Island Advance. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
- Cavallier, Andrea (June 2016). "New Yorkers want spelling of Verrazano-Narrows Bridge fixed". pix11.com. WPIX. Retrieved June 30, 2016.
- Dobnik, Verena (June 2016). "New Petition Aims to Fix Misspelling of NYC's Verrazano Bridge". nbcnewyork.com. NBC. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
- Lore, Diane (June 2016). "Mamma mia! Brooklyn man seeks to add second "Z" to Verrazano Bridge". silive.com. Staten Island Advance. Retrieved June 7, 2016.
- Jaeger, Max (December 2016). "Zed-letter day! Pols back Verrazano-Narrows name fix". Brooklynpaper.com. The Brooklyn Paper. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
- "2017 Toll Information". MTA Bridges & Tunnels. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
- "Verrazano–Narrows Toll Plaza Improvement" (Press release). MTA Bridges & Tunnels. January 26, 2010. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- "New Traffic Pattern at Brooklyn-bound Verrazano Toll Plaza Begins Wed., June 2nd – Removal of Last Two Unused Toll Booths Will Complete This Phase of Construction Work" (Press release). MTA Bridges & Tunnels. May 28, 2010. Retrieved August 25, 2011.
- Michael Sedon/Staten Island Advance. "Booths unused since 1986 finally removed from Staten Island's Verrazano Bridge toll plaza". SILive.com. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- "MTA | Press Release | Bridges & Tunnels | Verrazano-Narrows Toll Plaza Improvement Project Moves To Next Stage Along Narrows Road South". Mta.info. February 17, 2012. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- Yee, Vivian (November 21, 2014). "As Verrazano Bridge Turns 50, a Myth About Its Tolls Persists". The New York Times. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Calzolari, Anne Marie (February 21, 2009). "Urban legend about Verrazano Bridge debunked: You still gotta pay". The Staten Island Advance. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
- Siff, Andrew (2016-10-05). "Automatic Tolls to Replace Gates at 9 NYC Spans: Cuomo". NBC New York. Retrieved 2016-12-25.
- WABC (2016-12-21). "MTA rolls out cashless toll schedule for bridges, tunnels". ABC7 New York. Retrieved 2016-12-25.
- "Verrazano called NY's most dangerous bridge". Crain's New York Business. March 30, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
- Cole, Marine (March 31, 2011). "MTA refutes claim on Verrazano Bridge". Crain's New York Business. Crain Communications Inc. Retrieved September 14, 2014.
- "Verrazano Bridge". Transportation Alternatives. Retrieved July 2, 2011.
- "A Greenway Plan for New York City". New York City Department of City Planning. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
- "Verrazano – Pedestrian/Bicycle Access: Planning Design Feasibility" (PDF). New York City Department of City Planning. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
- Tobol, Sarah (June 29, 2007). "Long-Denied Verrazano Bridge Walkway Plan Picks Up Steam". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Retrieved February 21, 2010.
- "The Harbor Ring Committee". The Harbor Ring Committee. Retrieved November 27, 2013.
- Kashner, Sam (December 2007). "Fever Pitch". Vanity Fair.
- Soule, Gardner (June 1955). "Biggest Bridge to Span Busiest Harbor". Popular Science: 90–93, 264, 268.
- Forgotten New York: Bridge in the Back Yard
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.|
- Official website
- Varrazzano-Narrows Bridge on bridge-info.org
- Verrazano-Narrows Bridge at Structurae
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. NY-303, "Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Spanning Narrows between Fort Hamilton (Brooklyn) & Staten Island, Brooklyn, Kings County, NY", 35 photos, 3 photo caption pages
- Patrick S. O'Donnell's Varrazzano-Narrows Suspension Bridge photos on bridgemeister.com
- Varrazzano-Narrows Bridge construction photos by Lester Kramer
- WNYC broadcast of Varrazzano-Narrows Bridge dedication November 21, 1964.