Walking to the edge of the nearly completed second span of the Kosciuszko bridge on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo leans over and shouts at a couple of iron workers, “Anyone need any help?”
He’s there to announce that the second span of the Kosciuszko bridge, which connects Brooklyn and Queens over Newtown Creek, will open in September, four months earlier than the state had announced when the last section opened in 2017. The governor also wants everyone to know that by using a design-build method, which involves the contractor early in the design process, the state was able to keep the costs down to $873 million for the entire bridge project. Still, it was the most expensive single-contract public works project in New York history.
When asked whether that section of the BQE needs a nearly billion dollar bridge, the state’s Chief Engineer on the project, Wahid Albert, says this isn’t like other bridges, that are built to last 75 years.
“This is a once in a lifetime type of structures, a cable-stay,” Albert says, referring to the type of bridge—one that uses cables connected to towers which directly hold up the deck. “This iconic structure requires this kind of budget and it's designed for 100 years.”
Wahid added that traffic in that section should speed up 65 percent, though it seems likely the traffic will come to a grinding halt farther down the BQE in the not-too-distant future.
Later the governor explained to reporters why the project was moved up four months.
“This has been accelerated, and accelerated, and accelerated again, we want to get it open because it's going to make a tremendous difference in the volume of traffic,” Cuomo said.
One of the Laborers’ Local 731 union workers at the site explained how they’re able to get the work done ahead of schedule.
“There's definitely a lot of overtime, and now that the weather is getting nice they're gonna expect more of the same out of us,” he said.
Like the first span, this bridge will also include LED lights, although the costs for it were included in the first section, $4.5 million.
The first span of the bridge cost $555 million, the second is expected to cost $318 million. There will be park space on both ends of the bridge, which is not included in the price.
When the second section opens, there will be a total of eight lanes of traffic, plus a foot path and bike lane. On the Brooklyn side the path will connect to the bridge at Meeker Ave and Van Dam Street, running to Laurel Hill Boulevard and 54th Road in Queens.
During the governor’s walk-about on the still-under construction bridge he was joined by engineer Albert, who explained what the governor was seeing. “These are the steel counterweight to put in that span to keep it down,” Albert said. “Four million pounds of steel and four million pounds of concrete.”
The governor translated his findings for the journalists invited along. “These are steel,” he said. “Four million pounds of steel is added to that far end of the bridge to serve as a counterweight to keep it stable and balanced.”
“I think this is a beautiful bridge,“ Cuomo concluded.
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