Say your final goodbyes to the old Kosciuszko Bridge. After the first phase of demolition on July 25 it’s now time for big blow. In the first phase of the bridge’s demolition the center span of the crossing was separated and lowered onto a barge and schlepped to a recycling facility in New Jersey. However, that still left the approaches on the Queens and Brooklyn sides, which will now be dynamited. The destruction will make way for the remaining construction on the new Kosciuszko Bridge.
From the very first day the news dropped that the Kosciuszko Bridge would be blown up, many New Yorkers have been eagerly awaiting the day when they could gather to watch the hated bridge go down. Mark your calendars, the final demolition of ol’Kosciuszko Bridge is scheduled for September 24th when the Brooklyn and Queens approaches of the bridge will be blown up.
About original Kosciuszko Bridge
The Kosciuszko Bridge, originally referred to as the Meeker Avenue Bridge, opened on August 23, 1939. It was built at a cost of $6 million to $13 million (equal to between $103,000,000 and $224,000,000 in current dollars). The new bridge replaced an older Meeker Avenue Bridge (originally called the “Penny Bridge”).
The Meeker Avenue Bridge had been in use since 1894 and connected Meeker Avenue in Brooklyn to Review Avenue and Laurel Hill Boulevard in Queens. The first bridge on the site was built in 1803, through an Act of Legislature authorizing the “building of a Toll Bridge over Newtown Creek: this bridge charged one cent per foot passenger, which was the reason the bridge was called the “Penny Bridge.” Until 1888, the bridge was operated by private companies and thereafter became the property of the people. In 1896, the bridge became the property of the city of Brooklyn and in 1898, upon consolidation, it was taken over by the Department of Bridges of the Greater City of New York.
The original Meeker Avenue Bridge had been replaced several times. The new Meeker Avenue Bridge’s 1939 design and form was vastly different than the first Meeker Avenue Bridge. The earlier was a swing drawbridge and carried a two-lane roadway 20-ft wide and two sidewalks. The new bridge carried two three-lane concrete roadways each 32-ft wide and separated by a 4-foot center mall. Additionally, this new bridge structure contains 16,315 tons of steel, along 88,120 cubic yards of concrete masonry.
One of the builders of the new $1,500,000 Meeker Avenue Bridge was John Kelly, of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, who was a former Navy deep-sea diver and became famous for helping to work on the new bridge. In 1938, he completed his task of building a cofferdam, a box-like structure made of 250 steel sheets. This enabled workmen to operate and build an underwater pier in dry surroundings on the Greenpoint side of the new bridge; after that, Kelly began cutting away cofferdam bracings on the Queens side, at Laurel Hill Boulevard and Review Avenue. The city’s government officially renamed the bridge after Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish volunteer who was a General in the American Revolutionary War, on July 10, 1940.
Kosciuszko Bridge replacement
The old bridge, which was only meant to serve 10,000 vehicles per day, ended up serving 18 times that amount of traffic when it became part of the Interstate Highway System. It was not up to Interstate standards since it did not have any drainage pipes or shoulders.By the 1990s, the bridge was deteriorating and heavily congested. After an 18-month study in 1994–5, State Transportation Department officials concluded that in order to relieve congestion on the busy span, a new $100 million bridge, which included an additional three lanes, should be built next to the original six-lane Kosciuszko Bridge. This new bridge would be part of a renovation project planned for the entire crossing. DOT Supervisor Peter King stated that this new bridge may be required to avoid severe traffic backups on neighborhood streets surrounding the bridge during renovation of the Kosciuszko. King felt that in order to resolve the increasing number of severely congested streets and intersections, “a second parallel span” may be the answer.