As the traffic nightmare of a bridge comes down, city wants to hear your ‘fond memories’

kosciusko bridge


Ask most drivers how they feel about the Kosciuszko Bridge, and you’ll hear nothing but profanity-laced responses.

The state Department of Transportation (DOT), however, has a soft spot for the 76-year-old bridge over the Newtown Creek, which will soon be replaced by a new, modern span. As Queens and Brooklyn prepare for the transition, the DOT asking commuters to share “special moments and memories” experienced on the bridge.

But are there any? Yes, but maybe not what the DOT had in mind.

Flushing resident Ellen W. wrote on Yelp, “I once got stuck here between, 1 [a.m.] to 4 a.m. I will never forget that night.”

Jamaal H., another Queens resident, wrote, “I feel like I am pushing my suspension through a grinder whenever I drive over this bridge. Also, I  suggest avoiding this bridge during morning and evening rush hour, you’d likely reach [your] destination faster on foot than trying [to] access and cross the K. bridge.”

Most critiques of the Kosciuszko Bridge referred to its seemingly pervasive traffic problems. However, some Yelp reviews praised the bridge.

“Spent a month having to travel over the span and always had a great view,” said Scotty B. of Massachusetts. Sarah B. from Brooklyn also praised the Kosciuszko Bridge for its view.

The DOT plans to preserve “physical elements of the structure as part of an archive,” and comments from local residents and drivers in any format would be incorporated into the archive, according to a DOT flier that the United Forties Civic Association provided to QNS.

Named for Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish general who helped the Continental Army during the American revolution, the Kosciuszko Bridge opened in August 1939, connecting Van Dam Street in Long Island City with Meeker Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Under master builder Robert Moses, the bridge was incorporated into the design of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway during the 1950s. It rises more than 200 feet above the Newtown Creek, offering drivers stuck in traffic on it a great view of the Manhattan skyline in the distance.

The bridge’s narrow design makes it vulnerable to fender-benders and ensuing traffic jams. The state DOT has poured in millions over the years to renovate the bridge as it sought to replace the span, which was deemed structurally obsolete.

After years of planning, work began last year on the first of two cable-stayed suspension bridges that will replace the Kosciuszko Bridge. Once the first new bridge is completed and traffic is shifted onto it in 2017, workers will demolish the old Kosciuszko Bridge and erect the second new bridge in its place.

The $550 million project is expected to be completed by 2020.

To share questions, comments and memories about the Kosciuszko Bridge, contact Helen Neuhaus, community outreach coordinator for the Department of Transportation, at 917-887-0179 or at helen[@]hna1977.com.