The New York City Department of Transportation today announced that the current Willis Avenue Bridge will close at 2 a.m. and the new Willis Avenue Bridge will be opened to traffic by 7 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 2. The $612 million project to replace the current, 109-year-old swing" bridge, which opens on a pivot to allow marine traffic to pass on the Harlem River, is part of more than $5 billion in bridge investments made by the Bloomberg Administration. The new bridge was floated up the East River to its new home in July.
Starting at 2 a.m. Saturday, Bronx-bound motorists will be diverted to the Madison Avenue Bridge at 138th Street (via First Avenue or the FDR Drive) as workers prepare to transition traffic to the new bridge, which is expected to be complete by 7 a.m. Construction signs, variable message boards and traffic agents will guide motorists during this period. Media wishing to view the transition of traffic to the new bridge may do so from the pedestrian path of the current bridge, which will remain open.
The new bridge will eliminate tight curves on the existing span and create improved, direct connections to the FDR Drive in Manhattan and to the northbound Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx. The design includes wider travel lanes with shoulders, and a wider pedestrian and bicycle pathway along the north side of the bridge. The new bridge will have a solid riding surface instead of the existing open grating deck. First constructed in 1901, the Willis Avenue Bridge carries more than 70,000 vehicles a day and is part of the route of the New York City Marathon.
The old bridge will be floated down the Harlem and East Rivers to New Jersey in the coming weeks to be recycled.