Monday, August 09, 2010

Willis Avenue Bridge One Step Closer To Completion

One of the oldest bridges in New York City is one step closer to being replaced. The new Willis Avenue Bridge was moved into place earlier today alongside the old span, which will be deconstructed once the new bridge is completed.
The new bridge was built for the transportation department at a privately owned port in Coeymans, near Albany. Last month, a marine transportation crew loaded the finished span onto barges that were welded together for the 130-mile trip down the Hudson River to a dock in Bayonne, N.J. Two weeks later, the span was hauled from Bayonne 15 miles north through the East River to its final destination, where it was tied up to the shoreline near the existing bridge.

The last leg of the journey was via the East River because the load’s height, 82 feet from the barges’ decks to the bridge’s top crossbeam, was too tall for the low bridges over the narrow Harlem River.

While Mayor Bloomberg is touting that the City has spent more than $5 billion in the past several years replacing obsolete and deficient bridges, the City has several major spans that are in dire need of replacement - but those spans are on state-owned roads or are operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The city has more than 2,000 spans, and not all of them are in optimal condition.

Some projects are threatened by the ongoing budget problems in Albany, including the Alexander Hamilton bridge, while others are still in a planning phase.

Many other bridges, including those on the Belt Parkway are reaching the end of their operational life and are obsolete. Projects are underway to build new structures that meet current engineering and design standards.

These are worthy uses of limited state and local resources.

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