BY JON CRONIN
The Maspeth and Greenpoint communities were literally shaken by the demolition of the old span of the Kosciuszko Bridge on Sunday morning.
The demolition of the old Kosciuszko Bridge—which has been closed since May—is the first implosion of a bridge in the New York City area. The bridge has connected Queens to Brooklyn since 1930.
The $555 million first span of the new bridge was opened in May as part of an $873 million project. The second span is slated to open in 2019, ahead of schedule, according to the governor’s office. It will completely replace its now-destroyed 78-year-old counterpart.
During Sunday’s demolition of the bridge, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “After years of stagnation and stunted ambition, we are building across the state bigger and better than before, and the energetic felling of the old bridge to make way for the new, on budget and ahead of schedule bridge, showcases our renewed commitment to building new, inspiring infrastructure for the future.”
The bridge span that opened in May is now carrying three eastbound and three westbound lanes. When the new bridge opens in approximately two years, there will be five Queens-bound travel lanes on one bridge and four Brooklyn-bound travel lanes on the other, with a 20-foot-wide trail. The new bridge is expected to carry approximately 200,000 commuters daily. When the original bridge opened in 1930, it was designed to handle 10,000 cars per day.
In preparation for the demolition, engineers identified spaces on steel trusses providing structural support and placed linear charges that would blow and drop portions of the bridge onto beds of hammered concrete and dirt that minimize impact and vibration for the surrounding community. The explosives were used as surgical devices to cut through the steel. More than 1,600 cuts were made in the steel trusses. The beds catching the fallen steel ranged in height from 15 to 25 feet.
“An energetic felling is the chosen process because it is the safest, quickest, most effective way to demolish the old bridge that is the least intrusive to the surrounding community,” according to the governor’s office.
The governor’s office reported that 20 steel truss spans were dropped at heights as high as 30 feet across 10 spans on the Brooklyn-bound side and 10 spans on the Queens-bound side along a span of 3,100 feet. The 22 million pounds of steel will be cut away and recycled as scrap metal.
“I am pleased to have provided $670 million in federal funds to replace the old bridge and thrilled that the state has moved quickly under Gov. Cuomo’s leadership to build a new state-of-the-art bridge that will soon be joined by a second bridge that will give New Yorkers nine lanes of traffic, a new pedestrian/bikeway and new parks,” said U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) after the demolition of the old Kosciuszko Bridge. “We do not lament the passing of the old bridge.”
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, email@example.com or @JonathanSCronin.