Kosciuszko Bridge project completes first phase of demolition of the former bridge

On Tuesday, July 25th, the Kosciuszko Bridge team removed the main span of the former bridge by lowering it into the Newtown Creek. In order to lower the bridge, crews first removed the concrete median barrier, sidewalks, and light poles, and installed 130-foot-tall temporary steel towers at each of the four corners of the main span. Steel cables were then used to lower the span approximately 125 feet – an estimated 20 feet per hour – onto two barges lashed together in the Newtown Creek. Although the span was massive in size— 300 feet long, 89 feet wide, 50 feet tall and weighing 5 million pounds —the team had to get down to the most exact of measurements.

“The tolerances are so tight across the board that everything has to be precisely where it's supposed to be and precisely how it was designed otherwise the system doesn't work,” said Project Manager Dan Murphy. “The jacking towers have to be plumb within a half an inch. The braces cannot be off by more than one degree. The strand jacks have to be perfectly plumb. The rods that we use to transfer the bridge originally have to be perfectly plumb, perfectly centered on the bearings, and nothing can be out of level more than a 16th of an inch.”

The next day, the two barges were floated out to the East River, from where the main span was to be taken to a recycling facility.

“Tugs navigated the barges through Newtown Creek where it passed through a couple of moveable bridges that opened up, then they floated the barges down the East River, around the tip of Manhattan and to Jersey City, where it will be dismantled over the next four to six weeks,” said Daniel. Some of the moveable bridges are part of Skanska’s 12 movable bridges project, in which we are restoring electrical and mechanical systems of bridges damaged during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

This is part of the Kosciuszko Bridge project, which included construction of the new, Queens-bound span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge, followed by demolition of the former bridge. In April, New York Governor Cuomo and other elected officials were on hand to celebrate the grand opening of the new bridge. Skanska was the lead partner of the Skanska-Kiewit-ECCO joint venture for this project for the New York State Department of Transportation.

The new bridge is the first cable-stayed bridge in New York City, and the first major bridge constructed in the City since the Verrazano Bridge in 1964. The original bridge was opened in 1939 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.