Project Created Approximately 11,300 Jobs
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the second span of the Kosciuszko Bridge will open in September 2019, a full four years ahead of schedule and on budget. The bridge, part of an $873 million design-build construction project, is the first new bridge built in New York City since the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge opened to traffic in 1964. Once complete, the new bridge will encompass five Queens-bound travel lanes and four Brooklyn-bound travel lanes of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, plus a 20-foot-wide bikeway/walkway on the Brooklyn-bound span with spectacular views of Manhattan. The project has helped to support approximately 11,300 jobs in construction and related fields in the New York City metropolitan region.
AUDIO of the event is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
I'd like to acknowledge Kelly Cummings who is the Director of State Operations, Wahid Albert who is the Chief Engineer for the New York State Department of Transportation who has been overseeing this project, Gino D'Ippolito who is the Construction Manager, and Sam Roberts who is the Project Manager for Granite Construction. Granite Construction is the private builder who is building this bridge.
The Kosciuszko Bridge was formerly the Meeker Avenue Bridge. It opened in 1929. It was then named for Tadeusz Kosciuszko in 1940. Tadeusz Kosciuszko was a military general. He was a hero in the Revolutionary War and a hero for all New Yorkers but a hero for the Polish-American people.
The original plaque that was put up to name the bridge the Kosciuszko Bridge has been retained. It's now on the other span and it will be moved over. As a native New Yorker I know this bridge very well. We used to refer to it as the "Koskiasko Bridge." The proper pronunciation is the "Kosciuszko Bridge" which reflects the heritage of Tadeusz Kosciuszko.
I have a lot of memories about the Koskiasko-Kosciuszko Bridge. Most New Yorkers have their own memories about the old bridge. We lived in Queens. My father worked in Brooklyn on Court Street as an attorney for many years growing up. I remember him timing every trip to miss the traffic at the Kosciuszko Bridge. I remember him in the morning getting ready to get out fast so that he could avoid the traffic at the Kosciuszko Bridge. Evenings, he would talk to my mother about when he would leave. It was always about timing around the traffic at the Kosciuszko Bridge, which was horrendous. It was a bottleneck for many, many years. I was a motorcycle rider, and the old Kosciuszko Bridge had a steel great. When the bridge got wet, riding over that bridge really gave you a nervous feeling all over your body. So this is a great improvement.
The old bridge was designed to handle about 10,000 vehicles. The bridge was handling 200,000 vehicles. The old bridge was way over capacity. It was also very narrow because it was built to the old construction standards. It was also very steep. That was a problem for trucks that had to slowdown to make it up the incline. The bottleneck was caused not just by the volume of traffic, but by the trucks slowing down because they could not make it up the incline at the old Kosciuszko Bridge.
This replacement bridge was done in a totally different method than the state had used before. It is referred to as design-build construction, where government does not do the building or the actual construction. The government prioritizes the project, does some initial designs, sets it out for a private contractor, and the private contractor does the bulk of the design work and the construction work. That has worked much, much better for the state.
The old expression, "know what you know and know what you don't know." Government does not know how to build. It's not what government does. Let private contractors do it. And it's worked out much better for us. This bridge is four years ahead of schedule from what the original time estimate was if government were to build the job. So just the initial change—the design-build saved us four years.
This is actually two separate bridges. One obviously is complete and is operational. That bridge became operational in 2017. That bridge is now handling the same volume of traffic that the old bridge was handling. So right now, with the opening of that bridge we didn't really increase the volume. That one bridge maintained the volume that existed.
When this bridge opens, there will then be nine lanes of traffic—five Queens bound, four Brooklyn bound, with a pedestrian bike path of 20 feet on the side of the bridge, which never existed in the old bridge. So people can actually appreciate coming across the bridge. There will also be green spaces, park areas on both ends of the bridge, allowing people access to the waterfront. This whole bridge is 35 feet lower than the old bridge. So it's much more of a flat surface, much less of an incline for the trucks that use this roadway with some frequency.
The total project cost is $873 million and the project is now on budget. 11,000 construction workers—men and women—have worked on this bridge and we want to thank them all for their hard work. This has been accelerated and accelerated and accelerated again. We want to get it open because it's going to make a tremendous difference on the volume of traffic. And they have been doing a fantastic job.
This is going to be the first new bridge built in New York since the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 1964, believe it or not. So it is special in many ways. I think it is a beautiful bridge, now beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I think it has an elegant look, it has a modern look, it's illuminated at night and I think it enhances the Brooklyn and Queens skyline. You know, for many years we talk about the Manhattan skyline. I'm a Queens boy and Queens has a skyline and Brooklyn has a skyline, and this literally connects the two and I think it really enhances Queens and Brooklyn and that whole skyline view and does them both an honor.
We advanced the schedule. We're saving four years. The bridge is currently scheduled to open at the end of this year. We've been working with the contractors and we're going to move up even that timing to open in this September. September will be timely because it will be right after the summer, traffic will start to increase again after Labor Day and we hope to have the remaining work done this September. So the whole project has been accelerated four years, we then had it scheduled for the end of this December, and we're then going to advance it even more to complete it in September.
The bridge also says to me, it reminds me of New York's can do spirit, right? When you think about this bridge being the first bridge since the Verrazano, 1964, that means an entire generation has grown up without seeing really new, dramatic, big projects, massive progress for New York. But New Yorkers still can do it, we're doing it here, we're doing it at LaGuardia Airport, at JFK Airport. We're doing it at the Javits Center. We can still do great things when we put our mind to it, and we can still do it right and do it well and we can still make it beautiful. And that's what this bridge says to me, and I hope it says that to the people of the City of New York.