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PR- 344-10
August 9, 2010


Bridge Moved into Place Today after Traveling by Barge from Upstate New York

Part of more than $5 billion in City Bridge Investments since 2002

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today marked the installation of the 350-foot swing section of the new Willis Avenue Bridge, which moved into its final position this morning. The bridge was constructed in Coeymans, New York and was floated to the Harlem River on a barge. The nearly 110 year-old existing bridge reached the end of its useful life and the new bridge is expected to be open to traffic in October. The Willis Avenue Bridge project is a part of more than $5 billion in City bridge investments made by the Bloomberg Administration since 2002. The Mayor and Commissioner were joined by Congressman Jose E. Serrano and Congressman Charles B. Rangel at the new Willis Avenue Bridge to mark the occasion.

"The new Willis Avenue Bridge completed its long journey today and we expect the new bridge to be open to traffic, with no interruptions, this fall," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We have said time and again that we will not walk away from making the investments needed to build a better future for our City. The new Willis Avenue Bridge is the latest example of the progress our Administration has made in rebuilding the City's infrastructure, including investing more than $5 billion to rehabilitate City's bridges.  These investments will help keep our city strong through this century and beyond."

"The arrival of this bridge has been a magnificent riverside sight in recent weeks, and its installation today is an engineering marvel," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "Investments in our infrastructure rarely appear so dramatically, but it's a fitting entrance for an asset that will endure and serve New Yorkers every day for years to come."

The installation of the swing segment of the Willis Avenue Bridge is the last major maneuver in the $612 million project to replace the existing bridge, which opens on a pivot to allow marine traffic to pass. The swing section of the span, which is comprised of 2,400 tons of steel, travelled down the Hudson River last month, passing beneath the Brooklyn Bridge and arriving near Willis Avenue on July 26th. The swing section rested on a barge, approximately 250 feet away from its final destination, until it was floated into place today. For the next two months, workers will conduct the final engineering and electrical work to finalize the bridge's connection with the approach spans already built on both sides of the river. Traffic will not be interrupted when the existing bridge is closed and traffic is transferred to the new bridge.

The more than $5 billion in bridge investments made under the Bloomberg Administration includes rehabilitations of:

  • the Brooklyn Bridge - $508 million;
  • seven bridges along the Belt Parkway - $364 million;
  • the Williamsburg Bridge - $277 million;
  • the Queensboro Bridge - $168 million; and
  • the Manhattan Bridge - $150 million.

More than 70,000 motorists use the Willis Avenue Bridge daily, crossing to and from Harlem and the South Bronx. Upon opening in October, the new bridge will eliminate tight turns and feature wider driving lanes, enhanced pedestrian paths and a concrete deck - an improvement on the open steel grating of the existing bridge. The new span will also greatly improve connections with surrounding roadways, including a direct connection with the northbound Major Deegan Expressway and an improved connection with northbound FDR Drive. Once the new bridge is open, the old span will be removed in the weeks that follow.

By the turn of the 20th century, intensified manufacturing development in the southern Bronx had rendered the Third Avenue Bridge inadequate for traffic demands. In 1894, the State Legislature authorized a new bridge to be built over the Harlem River. After a delay due to a right-of-way conflict with the New Haven Railroad, the original Willis Avenue Bridge opened on August 22, 1901, at a cost of $2,444,511. Significant work to strengthen the structure was performed in 1916, when the Union Railway Company routed a trolley line across the bridge.


Stu Loeser/Marc La Vorgna   (212) 788-2958

Seth Solomonow   (Transportation)
(212) 839-4850

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