The current Kosciuszko Bridge next to the construction of its replacement
Eight years ago, in the face of an overwhelming consensus in favor of a complete replacement of the Kosciuszko Bridge, New York state’s Historic Preservation Office undertook a review to determine the structure’s historic and cultural value, stating:
“It is our opinion that the rehabilitation of the existing bridge – which represents a significant and unusual variation of the Warren truss type bridge – is a prudent and feasible alternative to demolition.”
Up to that point, no group of any stature had spoken up and declared that the bridge was worth saving. But this is how it usually goes for the Kosciuszko Bridge. The reactions that it evokes tend to lie along a spectrum of disinterest to disdain.
Construction has been completed on the first of two completely new spans that will be built adjacent to the existing structure, of which the 26 million pound main span came down on barges in late July 2017 and was floated down the East River. Concrete towers for the eastbound lanes currently loom like sentinels over the existing bridge. Sometime in late 2017, after the eastbound span opens to traffic, the seventy-eight year-old bridge, which connects north Brooklyn to western Queens, is scheduled to be demolished.
The new bridge promises what all new structures promise: to be better, stronger and more efficient at everything. It will sweep away all of the problems that have plagued the Kosciuszko during its troubled lifetime, a bridge that was itself heralded as a solution to the problems that plagued its predecessor.
The succession of bridges that crossed Newtown Creek at this particular location is a history of inadequate design, poor engineering, dubious construction, accidents and death. Efforts to improve a given bridge over the years were often stymied or endlessly delayed, leading to insistent calls for the offending structure to be replaced. It seems that the Kosciuszko Bridge is part of a continuum of inadequate, maligned bridges meant to cross a waterway that’s no wider than the length of a football field.
Here are twelve fun facts about the Kosciuszko Bridge and what the new bridge will look like:
12. The Kosciuszko Bridge Had the Most Violations of Any City Bridge
An inspection of city bridges in 2008 flagged the Kosciuszko Bridge with twice as many violations as the next-worst bridge on the list, and designated it structurally deficient. It has been a money-draining maintenance headache for decades, as well as a notorious traffic bottleneck.