After its abrupt castration last month, the Manhattan bridge is now in the process of getting its balls back. Over the weekend, the Department of Transportation closed the upper, Manhattan-bound roadway for "maintenance," which appears to have been code for "the Big Ball Transplant." So far, a DOT spokesperson told Gothamist, two of four compromised balls have been replaced.
As we previously reported, the DOT announced that it had begun removing the balls in late September. Installed over 110 years ago, the balls — which the DOT would probably prefer us to call "decorative globes" ... ¯\ _(ツ)_/¯ — were deteriorating and "believed to contain lead paint." They could not be salvaged, the agency explained, and would be replaced with "exact replicas," a pair of which Gothamist editor Christopher Robbins may have spotted sailing along East Broadway on a flatbed in early November. Understanding immediately that he had witnessed two prostheses on their way to surgery, Robbins chased own the truck and obtained photographic evidence. Look, balls of steel!
The DOT did not say when the other two orbs would be grafted onto the bridge, but what does seem clear is that this transplant was non-negotiable. In 2017, DNA Info reported that certain decorative elements, including the balls, had "begun to crumble and fall," and in 2018, the DOT awarded Skansa a $76 million contract to restore the crossway. So far, the new balls seem to be taking nicely to their host — Untapped Cities got some up-close-and-personal photos of the recast spheres on top of the bridge, check them out here.