The people have spoken, and they want a super-sleek cable-stayed structure to take the place of the tired Kosciuszko Bridge.
The state Department of Transportation gave Brooklyn and Queens a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in February to choose one of four designs for the long-awaited replacement span — an aesthetic decision in the more important process of widening the current bridge from six to nine lanes, adding a shoulder and a bike lane, and eliminating the Kosciuszko’s notorious steep incline.
The runaway choice? A sleek, cable-stayed bridge — a modern, wire-heavy take on the Brooklyn Bridge — though not for the same reasons.
“Many, many years ago, the Lenape Indians lived in this area (they were here first),” one resident said. “The cable-stayed design reminds me of an Indian dancing with his headdress of feathers on, and each cable represents one of his long feathers flowing from his costume.”
A total of 121 votes were cast: 53 for the cable-stayed design, 37 for the Bayonne Bridge knock-off crescent bridge, 13 for the dull but view-preserving box girder, and 18 for the highway-like deck arch. The state hasn’t made a final decision on the design yet, but officials promised that the community votes would serve as a “critical element of the main span selection process.”
But the department has bigger fish to fry than the aesthetics — drivers just want the city to get it done. The current bridge is constantly in gridlock, with some 160,000 daily drivers pushing forward — very slowly — at on- and off-ramps, making two impromptu lanes. The new bridge is supposed to cure all these problems.
Luckily, project manager Robert Adams has said that the $1 billion needed to finish construction — which ballooned from $700 million last year due to a longer build-out time — is already lined up through federal funding, and that the tentative completion date is in 2017.
“We have all the funding in our five- and 10-year budget plans,” Adams said earlier this year and re-confirmed in a press release this week. “We’re going to move ahead.”
The refurbished, now 60-year-old bridge would last another century and hold the same name (pronounced “coss-key-os-co”) — after Tadeusz Kosciuszko, an instrumental Polish general in the American Revolutionary War.