The decades-old bridge that connects Long Island City and 59th Street in Manhattan will get a major facelift under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new budget plan.
Built in 1909, the Queensboro Bridge was designed by civil engineer Leffert L. Buck and architect Henry Hornbostel. It underwent extensive renovations in 1987 that lasted until 2012 and came at a cost of $300 million.
Officially renamed the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge in 2010 after the former mayor, the city will now replace the upper span’s bridge deck in both directions, which is reaching the end of its useful life. The Department of Transportation (DOT) will also conduct a traffic study on the bridge, which is the busiest in the city and sees more than 230,000 riders a day, according to a 2013 DOT study.
The work, which will cost $244 million, is set to begin in fiscal year 2017 and the finalizing of the design contract has just begun.
Though the bridge is currently free, elected officials and transit advocates are proposing to add $8 tolls or $5.54 tolls with E-ZPass as part of the Move NY Fair Plan. According to advocates for the plan, the addition of tolls on East River bridges would generate $1.35 billion annually to help pay for infrastructure improvements.
“Investing in our infrastructure is a down payment on many accounts: maintaining a state of good repair, improving safety and boosting the economy,” de Blasio said. “The Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, one of the city’s iconic bridges spanning the East River, will benefit from this necessary funding and continue its role effectively moving hundreds of thousands of people daily.”
Overall, the DOT is receiving $289 million in new funds for the rehabilitation of the city’s most iconic bridges and the city will look to make sure that none of the 789 city’s bridges will have a “poor” condition rating through fiscal year 2022.