Bridge Over Manhattan-Empire State Gateway-New Jersey-Queens-NYC

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 MosesLower 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.

Bridge Over Manhattan-Empire State Gateway-New Jersey-Queens-NYC-2

As reported by, 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.

Bridge Over Manhattan-Empire State Gateway-New Jersey-Queens-NYC-3

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

Hey, who knows?

Next, read the NYC that Never Was: 10 Outrageous Architectural Plans that Never Left the Drawing Board.

 Empire State Gateway, NYC That Never Was

3 Responses
  1. Mr.Mustafa Noori Reply

    It’quite a strange coincidence,believe it or not ,two weeks ago that same idea had come into my mind ,and I started to draw my sketches even I called it “next generation highways “,but amidst my work I wondered whether anyone eles had beared that very idea in his mind too. So I started to search the internet ,and look what I found! The major difference is that the above article describes the whole project to the finest details,while mine is still in the basic aspects ; constructing suspended bridge like highways over or above downtown streets as a solution for forseen future traffic jam problems in Baghdad/Iraq

    Please convey my deep appreciation to the author.
    Mr.Mustafa Noori
    Ex sys.

  2. John Korchok Reply

    You mentioned the cancelled ARC tunnel in your article. If a more modest proposal has already been cancelled, why should we think that a more grandiose scheme will ever go ahead? And who in Jersey is dying to get to Queens?

    • michelle young Reply

      Indeed, as the piece indicates, we don’t think this proposal would actually go through.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *