As promised, the second span of the Kosciuszko Bridge will open to traffic Thursday morning. A 20-foot wide pedestrian and bike lane connecting Brooklyn and Queens will open first, on Wednesday from noon until 6 p.m.
Speaking to reporters on the bridge Tuesday afternoon, Cuomo said the new bridge is already iconic. “If you're in this community, if you're in Manhattan looking at Brooklyn this is going to be a magnificent addition to the skyline."
The bridge cost $873 million and was the most expensive single-contract public works project in New York history. It’s expected to last 100 years and reduce traffic delays in that section by 65 percent.
"The Bridge was designed to handle 10,000 cars per day and the volume is now about 200,000 cars per day so obviously the original bridge was overwhelmed and it had been for a long time," Cuomo said. "My father, while I was growing up, worked in Brooklyn, worked on Court Street, so his commute daily was over the Kosciuszko Bridge and there wasn't a day that went by that he didn't mention the Kosciuszko Bridge. I thought the name of the bridge was the 'Darn Kosciuszko Bridge' all my life," Cuomo said, adding, "And it wasn't really 'darn' that he said but clean it up a little bit."
What about the concept of induced demand, which states that building more roads doesn't help congestion because drivers will be encouraged to drive on them? Cuomo wasn't buying it.
“The old bridge was an artificial congestion point, because it couldn’t handle the volume on both sides of the bridge so it was a choke point,” he said. “What you're doing is removing the choke, You’re not increasing the volume on the roads on the different sides of the bridges, you’re just ending the choke. It was a choke point."
The seven acres under the bridge, bordered by several industrial factories and warehouses, will be transformed into a public park. Cuomo announced that the state will spend $1 million to pave the rubble strewn space, and kick in an additional $6 million to get the next phase of the park going, although it’s unclear what the long-term plan for the park is other than it will have space for concerts, “and other public uses which will benefit the neighborhood for decades to come," the governor noted in a statement. An optimistic set of proposals was presented to the community.
The first section of a four-part park is expected to be completed on the Brooklyn side by Memorial Day 2020.
No bridge completion under Cuomo's tenure would be complete without a light show accompanied by music. (The fancy lights on just one side of the Kosciuszko Bridge cost $4.5 million.) The festivities begin on Wednesday night around 8 p.m.
Recommend viewing spots include:
- South sidewalk of the Greenpoint Avenue bridge (Brooklyn/Queens)
- North sidewalk of the Grand Street bridge (Brooklyn/Queens)
- East sidewalk of 56th Road, south of 48th Street (Queens)
- Pedestrian bridge over ramp from LIE Service Road to Laurel Hill Blvd (Queens)
- Nassau Avenue & Apollo Street (Brooklyn)