The Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge is one of the major crossings of the East River, each day carrying over 170,270 vehicles, 5,400 cyclists, and more than 2,000 pedestrians (2017 counts) between the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens and serving some of the busiest arteries in New York City. It is a five span cantilever truss; the only one of the four great East River Bridges that is not a suspension bridge.
The bridge was constructed between 1901 and 1909 and was opened to the traffic on June 18, 1909. A collaboration between the bridge engineer Gustav Lindenthal (1850-1935) and architect Henry Hornbostel, the main bridge is 3,725 feet long, the longest of the East River Bridges. The overall length of the bridge including the Manhattan and Queens approaches is 7,449 feet.
The site is an ideal location for a bridge as Roosevelt Island provides a convenient footing for the piers. Seventy-five thousand tons of steel went into the original bridge and its approaches. Its original cost was about $18 million, including $4.6 million for land. At the time of completion, it was not only the longest cantilever bridge in the United States, but also was designed for heavier loads than any other bridges.
Various alterations have been made over the years. An off ramp on the Queens side was added. An additional viaduct known as Approach Ramp B was constructed during this time. It connected the nearby Thomson Avenue Viaduct with the Queens off ramp. On the Manhattan side, the Manhattan approach south ramp to the south upper roadway was also constructed.
During the 1930's, the lower inner roadway trolleys were removed and the roadway was reconstructed for vehicular traffic. In the 1950's the transit tracks were removed, north upper roadway and Queens Approach Ramps A, C, and D were built. In the 1950's trolley tracks were removed from the lower outer level and replaced with one lane roadway on each side, designated the north and south outer roadways.
The Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge was designated as a national landmark on November 23, 1973.
The rehabilitation effort was initiated with the in-depth inspection and Bridge Rehabilitation Project (BRPR) during 1978 and 1979 followed by the biannual inspections to monitor the deterioration of bridge components. To best continue to satisfy the traffic needs of the boroughs of Manhattan and Queens and the surrounding communities, it is essential that all of its roadways be rehabilitated in order to have the fewest possible traffic disruptions and also to improve the driving safety.
Contract No. 6
Contract No. 6 began in November 2003, and consists of miscellaneous work items at various locations throughout the bridge, approaches and ramps. The items are as follows:
- Condition investigation of eyebar heads and pins on main bridge truss
- Art Commission protective screening on North Outer Roadway
- Aviation warning lights at main bridge towers
- Drainage improvements on the main bridge and Queens approach
- Promenade platform at main bridge towers and miscellaneous access items
- New overhead sign structures with signs in Manhattan
- Repairs to underside of 59th Street overpass to South Upper Roadway
- Upgrading of roadway lighting by replacement of all low-pressure sodium lightings on the bridge and ramps with high-pressure sodium lightings
- Cleaning and miscellaneous repairs of the Manhattan and Queens anchor piers
- Kiosk restoration
- Geometric improvements of Lower South Inner and Outer Roadway at Crescent Street
- Various rehabilitation items for switching the bikeway/walkway from South Outer Roadway to North Outer Roadway
- Removal and replacement of the deteriorated concrete overfill on the Manhattan approach, Queens approach, off-ramp and approach C - South Upper Roadway deck
- Removal of epoxy concrete overlay on North Outer Roadway
- Placing microsurfacing on main bridge North and South Upper RoadwayI
- Install granite bollards at kiosk
- Arch infill for area occupied by the Sanitation Department
- Traveler access platform installation
- Rehabilitation of vehicle storage facility
- Cleaning and repainting of Manhattan approach.
- Cleaning and repainting of Manhattan entrance and exit ramps.
- Cleaning and repainting of Manhattan and Queens (interior)anchor towers.
- Cleaning and repainting of the Ramp A in Queens.
- Cleaning and repainting of the Off Ramp in Queens.
- Cleaning and repainting of Ramps B and C from Queens Plaza South to Thompson Avenue (except over the railroad tracks).
- Cleaning and painting of the Queens Approach underside of the lower roadway.
- Cleaning and repainting of the underside of the lower and upper roadways of spans 3, 4 and 5 from Panel Point 123 to Panel Point 37 of the Main Bridge.
- Cleaning and repainting of the upper roadways of span 4 from Panel Point 77 to 123 of the Main Bridge, span 2 from Panel Point 30 to 47 and span 1 from Panel Point 1 to 15.
Paint Removal and Safety Measures
DOT and its contractor strictly adhere to the safety requirements regarding lead paint removal as approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, New York City Departments of Health and Environmental Protection and the New York State Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation.
- The work is performed within an entirely sealed Class 1A Containment System (under negative pressure) which prevents any materials from escaping into the air.
- Filtration of the enclosed air prevents paint waste dust from being released.
- DOT has placed several Air Monitoring Stations in the area around the bridge.
- DOT performs continuous monitoring and testing of the air quality and noise levels in the area surrounding the containment enclosures during blasting operations to minimize impacts and ensure the safety and quality of life for adjacent residents and workers.
Some of these operations result in unavoidable noise and traffic diversions. Construction activities at times require the temporary closure of intersections and reduction of traffic lanes on the bridge and on local streets and sidewalks. However, DOT is committed to keeping these impacts to a minimum. DOT's major mitigation measures include:
- Active measures are taken by the contractor to reduce noise at its source, such as sound blankets, mufflers, sound screens, equipment placement location and use of low noise producing equipment.
- All staging areas are behind a screened fencing.
- Light shields are utilized to reduce glare from work lights.
Rehabilitation work under Contract No. 5 started in August 1995 was completed by December 2001. This work included the rehabilitation of the North and South Lower Outer Roadways; removal and replacement of roadway deck on the North and South Outer Roadways, including reinforcement of stringers, floor beams, tie angles, plates and bearings, new curbs, barriers and railings; a new drainage system; installation of a new underground drainage system in Queens; restoration of Guastavino arches, windows, and column tiles inside the market area of the Manhattan approach; installation of a truss cover between the Inner and Outer Roadways on the main bridge and Queens approach; removal and replacement of the necklace and navigational lighting; cleaning and re-pointing of stonework between Second Avenue and the Manhattan anchor pier and between the Queens abutment and Crescent Street; removal and reinstallation of Six Con Edison high voltage main feeders; rehabilitation of the maintenance shops under the Manhattan approach; and the removal and replacement of epoxy concrete overlay on the main bridge South Upper Roadway.
The entire Bridgemarket area was opened to the public, featuring a restaurant (Guastavino's) and a food market (Food Emporium) joining the Conran Shop. DOT received an award for the renovation of this historic facility.
The South Outer Roadway was opened to vehicular traffic (cars only) and the North Outer Roadway was inaugurated as a permanent bicycle and pedestrian path in September 2000. The evening reversal on the North Upper Roadway was eliminated, allowing 4 lanes to inbound and 5 lanes to outbound traffic more closely matching the demand.
During the 1990's, DOT invested almost $300 million in the bridge. During these years, contracts were issued to
- reconstruct two ramps in Queens
- reconstruct the South Upper Roadways
- reconstruct the North Upper Roadways, Queens Approach A & B; and rehabilitate the bearings of the Queens approach
- reconstruct Ramps C & D in Queens
- rehabilitate bridge bearings, pier tops and truss lower chords.
In September 1989, DOT began Contract No. 4 - Rehabilitation of Queens Lower Inner Roadways, which was completed in May 1996. Additional items included the rehabilitation of Queens approach and main bridge truss members with low ratings, the Queens approach and main bridge lateral wind bracing, the Queens approach towers and bents, the Manhattan approach columns, bracing and plazas. Extensive removal of lead based paint and repainting using a lead free epoxy-urethane system was also included.
Rehabilitation work under Contracts No. 1 to No. 3 was completed between 1981 and 1987. The upper roadway reconstruction and installation of variable message signs were completed between 1982 and 1989.
Contract No. 3B included the rehabilitation of the main bridge lower truss chords and the main bridge pier tops, the replacement of two outer roadway floorbeams and deck at the Manhattan anchor pier.
Contract No. 3A was the reconstruction of Approach Ramp C and Approach Ramp D. The installation of Variable Message Signs was added at the entrance to the approach ramps in Queens to regulate traffic flow on the North Upper Roadway.
Contract No. 3 was the reconstruction of the North Upper Roadway and Approaches A and B.
Contract No. 2 was the reconstruction of the South Upper Roadway which also included the replacement of the movable maintenance platforms (travelers) under the main bridge.
Contract No. 1 was the reconstruction of "Off-Ramp" and "Old Approach B", the two approach viaducts in Queens identified for immediate attention. Outer roadways which were closed during 1978 inspection were reopened after the completion of this contract.