As of 8 a.m. Sunday morning, the old, traffic-snarling Kosciuszko Bridge is no more. The decaying bridge, which was officially closed in April when the eastbound span of its replacement opened, crumbled and fell to the ground in a matter of minutes in a process known as “energetic felling, the city’s first ever implosion of a major bridge using explosives.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who pressed the button setting off 900 small charges that set the bridge’s demise in motion said, “I think there’s been traffic on that bridge and a bottleneck since the day it was built. So it couldn’t handle the volume so that had to be done and this project will do that. We built the first span. The first span is up–it’s beautiful.”
“An energetic felling. What does that mean?” Cuomo added, “I don’t know. I think it’s a new politically correct term for implosion. But they don’t want to say implosion because that makes people nervous, so they say an energetic felling. I’m not going to say an energetic felling because I think it sounds crazy.”
The new Kosciuszko Bridge in the foreground, with the old bridge behind it. Image: Wikimedia commons.
Two months earlier, the middle span of the bridge was hauled off to New Jersey to be taken apart and recycled. The old, not-big-enough bridge has been a source of major congestion between the two boroughs for decades. Opened in 1939, it was only intended to carry 10,000 vehicles each day. When the old bridge closed last April–Gov. Cuomo took a ceremonial first ride across its replacement in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1932 Packard–180,000 vehicles were crossing daily.
The bridge, part of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, spans Newtown Creek and connects Brooklyn with Queens. The new bridge, scheduled to be completed in 2019–four years ahead of the original project schedule–will offer five Queens-bound lanes and four lanes and a pedestrian/bike path on the Brooklyn-bound side.
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