By GREGORY ZELLER //
The old Kosciuszko Bridge got blowed up real good.
The last standing sections of the 78-year-old Brooklyn-Queens span were imploded Sunday in the pyrotechnically spectacular penultimate chapter of New York State’s $873 million, way-ahead-of-schedule replacement effort.
The first span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge – actually, two state-of-the-art cable-supported bridges over Newtown Creek – opened in April, marking completion of the project’s $555 million first phase. What will be the Queens-bound bridge is currently carrying traffic in both directions, until the Brooklyn-bound span – the prize of the $318 million Phase II – is ready.
But first, the remains of the original Kosciuszko Bridge were brought down, with a blast that rattled windows in both boroughs.
The two-part truss bridge opened in 1939 as the Meeker Avenue Bridge and was renamed by New York City in 1940 after Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko, a Polish-Lithuanian military engineer and military leader who was a national hero in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus and rose to the rank of general under George Washington in the American Revolution.
Its main span was lowered onto a barge and removed in July. On Sunday, demolition experts targeted 20 trusses – totaling 3,100 feet, about three-quarters of the bridge’s total span – that supported the original Kosciuszko’s Brooklyn and Queens approaches.
The trusses, 10 in each borough, were dropped with an “energetic felling” – not technically an implosion, but a strategic bombing of load-bearing frames that collapsed some 22 million pounds of steel straight down.
The steel will be recycled as scrap, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, which noted the controlled demolition and subsequent removal of the trusses will free up space for workers to complete construction of the second span – now scheduled to be open in 2019, four full years ahead of schedule.
When completed, the new Kosciuszko Bridge will include five Queens-bound travel lanes and four Brooklyn-bound travel lanes – technically, part of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway – plus a 20-foot-wide bikeway/walkway. The span is projected to carry roughly 200,000 commuters daily, according to Cuomo’s office.
Calling the new bridge “a triumph,” Cuomo said the $873 million replacement project is proof-positive that New York is both “rejuvenating our transportation infrastructure and supporting economic growth.”
“The energetic felling of the approach spans of the former Kosciuszko Bridge marks another milestone in the construction of the first major new bridge in New York City in more than 50 years,” the governor said Friday, noting “one more sign that New York State is building a brighter future.”