Bridges and tunnels in New York City

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The Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges on the East River, 1981 Photo by George Garrigues

New York City is home to over 2,000 bridges and tunnels. Several agencies manage this network of crossings, including the New York City Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York State Department of Transportation and Amtrak.

Nearly all of the city's major bridges, and several of its tunnels, have broken or set records. The Holland Tunnel was the world's first vehicular tunnel when it opened in 1927. The Brooklyn Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge, George Washington Bridge, and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge were the world's longest suspension bridges when opened in 1883,[1] 1903,[2] 1931,[3] and 1964[4] respectively.

Bridges[edit]

New York's crossings date back to 1693, when its first bridge, known as the King's Bridge, was constructed over Spuyten Duyvil Creek between Manhattan and the Bronx. The bridge, composed of stone abutments and a timber deck, was demolished in 1917. The oldest crossing still standing is High Bridge which connects Manhattan to the Bronx over the Harlem River.[5] This bridge was built to carry water to the city as part of the Croton Aqueduct system.

Ten bridges and one tunnel serving the city have been awarded some level of landmark status. The Holland Tunnel was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993 in recognition of its pioneering role as the first mechanically ventilated vehicular underwater tunnel, operating since 1927. The George Washington, High Bridge, Hell Gate, Queensboro, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Macombs Dam, Carroll Street, University Heights and Washington bridges have all received landmark status as well.[5]

New York features bridges of all lengths and types, carrying everything from cars, trucks and subway trains to pedestrians and bicycles. The George Washington Bridge, spanning the Hudson River between New York City and Fort Lee, New Jersey, is the world's busiest bridge in terms of vehicular traffic.[6][7] The George Washington Bridge, Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge are considered among the most beautiful in the world. Others are more well known for their functional importance such as the Williamsburg Bridge which has two heavy rail transit tracks, eight traffic lanes and a pedestrian sidewalk.

Bridges by water body[edit]

East River[edit]

J train on the Williamsburg Bridge

From south to north:

NameOpening yearLengthComments
Brooklyn Bridge18831825 mOldest suspension bridge. Also oldest suspension/cable-stayed hybrid bridge.
Manhattan Bridge19092089 m(B D N Q R subway service)
Williamsburg Bridge19032227.48 m(J M Z subway service)
Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge19091135.0 mNY-25
Also known as 59th Street Bridge
Roosevelt Island Bridge1955876.91 mEast channel only (no access to Manhattan)
Robert F. Kennedy Bridge19361569.72 mI-278
Formerly known as the Triborough Bridge
Hell Gate Bridge19165181.6 mRail only
Rikers Island Bridge19661280.16 mOnly connects Rikers Island to Queens
Bronx–Whitestone Bridge19391149.10 mI-678
Throgs Neck Bridge1961886.97 mI-295

Harlem River[edit]

Wards Island Bridge in "open" position

From south to north, east to west:

NameOpening yearLengthComments
Wards Island Bridge1951285.6mPedestrians and bicycles only
Robert F. Kennedy Bridge19361569.72 mFormerly known as the Triborough Bridge
Willis Avenue Bridge1901979 m
Third Avenue Bridge1898
Park Avenue Bridge1954Metro-North only
Madison Avenue Bridge1910577 m
145th Street Bridge1905489 m
Macombs Dam Bridge1895774 m
High Bridge1848600 mOldest surviving bridge in New York City; Currently closed for repairs.
Alexander Hamilton Bridge1963724 mI-95 US-1
Washington Bridge1888723.9 m
University Heights Bridge190882 m
Broadway Bridge1962Also known as Harlem Ship Canal Bridge
(1 subway service)
Henry Hudson Bridge1936673 mHenry Hudson Parkway
Spuyten Duyvil Bridge1899Rail only

Hudson River[edit]

George Washington Bridge, spanning the Hudson River between New York City and New Jersey. Historic American Engineering Record photo
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge
NameOpening yearLengthComments
George Washington Bridge19311450.85 mI-95, US-1, US-9 US-46
Handles 280,718 vehicles per day (2010)[8]

New York Bay[edit]

NameOpening yearLengthComments
Verrazano-Narrows Bridge19642039.1 mI-278

Newtown Creek[edit]

Borden Avenue, Long Island City
NameOpening yearLengthComments
Kosciuszko Bridge19391,835 metres (6,020 ft)I-278
Pulaski Bridge1954860 metres (2,820 ft)McGuinness Boulevard
J. J. Byrne Memorial Bridge1987[9]55 metres (180 ft)a.k.a. Greenpoint Avenue Bridge
Grand Street Bridge1903[9]69.2 metres (227 ft)
Metropolitan Avenue Bridge1933[9]33.8 metres (111 ft)crosses English Kills, a tributary of Newtown Creek[9]

Other[edit]

The Bronx[edit]

NameOpening yearLengthComments
Hutchinson River (heading upriver)
Pelham Bridge1908Shore Road
Hutchinson River Parkway Bridge
Westchester Creek
Unionport Bridge
Bronx River
Eastern Boulevard BridgeI-278
Pelham Bay
City Island Bridge1901City Island Avenue

Brooklyn[edit]

Ninth Street Bridge, spanning Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.
NameOpening yearLengthComments
Gowanus Canal
Union Street Bridge1905[10]
Carroll Street Bridge1889[10]New York City Designated Landmark and one of four retractable bridges in the country[11]
Third Street Bridge1905[10]
Ninth Street Bridge1999[10]
Culver Viaduct1938[12](F G subway service)
Hamilton Avenue Bridge1942[10]
Gowanus Expressway1941[13]I-278
Mill Basin
Mill Basin Bridge
Rockaway Inlet (Brooklyn and Queens)
Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge19371226 m

Queens[edit]

NameOpening yearLengthComments
Dutch Kills
Borden Avenue Bridge1908[9]One of four retractable bridges in the country[11]
Hunters Point Avenue Bridge1910[9]
Jamaica Bay
Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge1970
The Joseph P. Addabbo Memorial Bridge
North Channel Swing Bridge(A subway service)
Not actually a movable bridge.
Howard Beach to Broad Channel.
Beach Channel Drawbridge(A S subway service)
Broad Channel to The Rockaways
102nd Street BridgeConnecting Hamilton Beach at Russell Street with Howard Beach, also known as "Lenihan's Bridge".
Hawtree Creek Bridge163rd Avenue and 99th Street in Howard Beach across to Hamilton Beach at Rau Court and Davenport Court
Rockaway Inlet (Brooklyn and Queens)
Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge19371226 m

Staten Island[edit]

NameOpening yearLengthComments
Arthur Kill
Goethals Bridge19282164.08 mI-278
Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge1959170.08 mCSX and M&E rail lines
Outerbridge Crossing19283093 mNJ 440/NY 440
Kill Van Kull
Bayonne Bridge19311761.74 mNY 440/NJ 440

Tunnels[edit]

Each of the tunnels that run underneath the East and Hudson Rivers were marvels of engineering when first constructed. The Holland Tunnel is the oldest of the vehicular tunnels, opening to great fanfare in 1927 as the first mechanically ventilated underwater tunnel. The Queens Midtown Tunnel was opened in 1940 to relieve the congestion on the city's bridges. Each of its tubes were designed 1½ feet wider than the Holland Tunnel in order to accommodate the wider cars of the period. When the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel opened in 1950 as the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, it was the longest continuous underwater vehicular tunnel in the world, a title which it still holds. The Lincoln Tunnel has three tubes linking midtown Manhattan to New Jersey, a configuration which provides the flexibility to provide four lanes in one direction during rush-hour or three lanes in each direction.

All four underwater road tunnels were built by Ole Singstad: the Holland Tunnel's original chief engineer Clifford Milburn Holland died, as did his successor, Milton H. Freeman, after which Singstad became chief engineer, finishing the Holland Tunnel and then building the remaining tunnels.

East River[edit]

PATH train emerging from the Hudson tubes, into the Exchange Place station
Traveling through the Holland Tunnel, from Manhattan to Jersey City, New Jersey.

From south to north:

NameOpening yearLengthComments
Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel19502,779 m (9,117 ft)I-478
Joralemon Street Tunnel1908IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4 5 subway services)
Montague Street Tunnel1920BMT Broadway Line (R subway services)
Clark Street Tunnel19191,800 m (5,900 ft)IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line (2 3 subway services)
Cranberry Street Tunnel1933IND Eighth Avenue Line (A C subway services)
Rutgers Street Tunnel1936IND Sixth Avenue Line (F subway service)
14th Street Tunnel1924BMT Canarsie Line (L subway service)
East River Tunnels19101,204 m (3,949 ft)part of the New York Tunnel Extension
Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road (Northeast Corridor)
Queens–Midtown Tunnel19401,955 m (6,414 ft)I-495
Steinway Tunnel1915IRT Flushing Line (7 <7> subway services)
53rd Street Tunnel1933IND Queens Boulevard Line (E M subway services)
60th Street Tunnel1920BMT Broadway Line (N Q R subway services)
63rd Street Tunnel1989960 m (3,140 ft)upper level: IND 63rd Street Line (F subway services)
lower level: future LIRR to Grand Central Terminal

Harlem River[edit]

From south to north:

NameOpening yearLengthComments
Lexington Avenue Tunnel1918IRT Lexington Avenue Line (4 5 6 <6> subway services)
149th Street Tunnel1905195 m (641 ft)IRT White Plains Road Line (2 subway service)
Concourse Tunnel1933IND Concourse Line (B D subway services)

Hudson River[edit]

From south to north:

NameOpening yearLengthComments
Downtown Hudson Tubes19091,720 m (5,650 ft)Montgomery-Cortlandt Tunnels
Port Authority Trans-Hudson
Holland Tunnel1927south tube: 2,551 m (8,371 ft)
north tube: 2,608 m (8,558 ft)
I-78
Uptown Hudson Tubes19081,700 m (5,500 ft)Hoboken-Morton Tunnels
Port Authority Trans-Hudson
North River Tunnels19101,900 m (6,100 ft)part of New York Tunnel Extension
Amtrak and New Jersey Transit (Northeast Corridor)
Lincoln Tunnelsouth tube: 1957
center tube: 1937
north tube: 1945
south tube: 2,440 m (8,006 ft)
center tube: 2,504 m (8,216 ft)
north tube: 2,281 m (7,482 ft)
NJ 495/I-495

Newtown Creek[edit]

NameOpening yearComments
Greenpoint Tube1933IND Crosstown Line (G subway service)

Other bridges and tunnels[edit]

Bridges and tunnels by use[edit]

The relative average number of inbound vehicles between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. to Midtown and Lower Manhattan is:

  1. Queensboro Bridge: 31,000
  2. Lincoln Tunnel: 25,944
  3. Brooklyn Bridge: 22,241
  4. Williamsburg Bridge: 18,339
  5. Queens-Midtown Tunnel: 17,968
  6. Holland Tunnel: 16,257
  7. Brooklyn Battery Tunnel: 14,496
  8. Manhattan Bridge: 13,818

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "NYC DOT - Brooklyn Bridge". Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  2. ^ "NYC DOT - Williamsburg Bridge". Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  3. ^ "History - George Washington Bridge - The Port Authority of NY & NJ". Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  4. ^ "Verrazano-Narrows Bridge". Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  5. ^ a b "NYC DOT - Frequently Asked Questions about Bridges". Retrieved 2012-02-24. 
  6. ^ "Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - George Washington Bridge". The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Retrieved September 13, 2013. 
  7. ^ Bod Woodruff, Lana Zak, and Stephanie Wash (November 20, 2012). "GW Bridge Painters: Dangerous Job on Top of the World's Busiest Bridge". ABC News. Retrieved September 13, 2013. 
  8. ^ "2008 NYSDOT Traffic Data Report". New York State Department of Transportation. Appendix C. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Movable Bridges over Newtown Creek and its Tributaries". New York City. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  10. ^ a b c d e New York City Dept. of Transportation. "Bridges over the Gowanus Canal". New York City. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Berger, Joseph (May 13, 2013). "Antique Bridge Closed to Traffic While It’s Open for Repairs". New York Times. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  12. ^ McGill, John. "Underline: The Culver Viaduct". Urban Omnibus. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  13. ^ [1]

External links[edit]