By Bill Parry
Hundreds of spectators along the banks of Newtown Creek watched the remains of the old Kosciuszko Bridge come down in a controlled explosion Sunday. Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined city and state officials on the Brooklyn side to watch the implosion just after 8 a.m. using a process called energetic felling, part of the $873 million project to replace the 78-year-old dilapidated crossing with two new state-of-the-art, cable-stayed bridges.
“After years of stagnation and stunted ambition, we are building across the state bigger and better than before, and the energetic felling of the old bridge to make way for the new, on budget and ahead of schedule bridge, showcases our renewed commitment to building new, inspiring infrastructure for the future,” Cuomo said. “The new cable-stayed bridge is a monument that brings people together, straddling two boroughs that have welcomed generations of immigrants from all over the globe.”
The main span was dismantled and lowered to a barge on Newtown Creek July 24 and the controlled explosion took out the remaining steel tresses on the Queens and Brooklyn sides. Demolition experts used shaped charges to drop the 11,000 tons of steel trusses to a prepared landing below and the process met all New York Codes and while huge clouds of dust were inevitable, there were no air quality concerns according to the governor’s office.
“I am delighted to join Gov. Cuomo as we say goodbye to the last remnants of the old Kosciuszko Bridge, a span that had outlasted its time,” U.S Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) said. “We do not lament the passing of the old bridge.”
Cuomo opened the first span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge in April, celebrating the completion of the $555 million first phase of the project, the largest single contract the state Department of Transportation has ever undertaken.
The second span is expected to be completed in 2019, giving 200,000 vehicles a day a total of nine lanes.
“Today’s energetic felling will pave the way for the second span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge to be built where the old bridge once stood,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “It is a major step toward a fully complete Kosciuszko Bridge that not only connects two boroughs of the greatest city in the world, but also symbolizes a tangible reminder of New York as a nationwide leader in innovation.”
The original bridge was designed for 10,000 cars a day when it opened in 1932 but was carrying more than 180,000 a day in recent years.
“The Kosciuszko Bridge had to be replaced,” Cuomo said. “I think there’s been traffic on that bridge, and a bottleneck, since the day it was built.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr