No matter how far we’ve progressed in terms of urban planning, there will always be those that believe that building massive infrastructure will solve all of the city’s traffic problems. In a proposal that harkens back to Robert Moses‘ Lower Manhattan Expressway (LOMEX), a Delaware traffic consultant has proposed twin suspension bridges that would stretch from New Jersey, over Manhattan, into Queens, crossing along both 38th and 39th Streets. Scott R. Spencer, who has termed his project the Empire State Gateway, sees this proposal as a faster fix than the Gateway Tunnel.
The proposed Empire State Gateway bridge project would have six 1000-foot towers, with 39th Street handling westbound traffic and 38th Street handling eastbound traffic. Though the width of the proposed bridges would stay within the streetscape, there would be three levels. The lower level would have two rail lines, the second level would be for buses, light rail (or a magnetic levitation train) and commercial car traffic, and pedestrians and cyclists would use a third level. There would be a new Midtown station built just south of Bryant Park.
As reported by NJ.com, Spencer estimates that a project like this would cost $20 billion, which he believes would be financed through tolls, rights by public transit to use the bridge, transit-based real estate fees, revenue from antennas, and money from investment banks. As a reference, the Gateway tunnels is also projected to cost $20 billion but would be underground, and would take longer: 20+ years versus an estimated 60 months for one of the bridges, according to Spencer. But, on the flip side, two whole streets in Manhattan would not be cast into shadow. We know New Yorker hate being in shadow, the 1916 Zoning Resolution is the classic case in point.
We can pretty safely say that this proposal is beyond a pipe dream, given the activism of New York City’s community boards, the prime real estate the bridge would pass through, the city’s history of moving elevated infrastructure underground, and the failure of other large scale bridge projects to come to fruition. Not to mention the general urban planning trend that has embraced livable streetscapes and small scale interventions at the pedestrian level.
Undeterred, Spencer, who was previously employed by Parsons-Brinckerhoff to evaluate alternatives to the now defunct ARC tunnel project, is sending “concept drawings and documents to Federal Railroad Administration and other officials” this week, according to NJ.com.
Hey, who knows?
Next, read the NYC that Never Was: 10 Outrageous Architectural Plans that Never Left the Drawing Board.
Michelle is the founder of Untapped New York. She is the author of Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide, New York: Hidden Bars & Restaurants, and Broadway. She is a graduate of Harvard College in the History of Art and Architecture and holds a master’s degree in urban planning from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where she is an Adjunct Professor of Architecture.