In 2009, the borden avenue bridge in L.I.C. was in serious trouble.
The western end of the bridge was sinking. The ground below the pavement was slowly compressing downward over time, due in no small part to the area originally being marshland that was filled in with soil by world war 1.
As the ground sank, a huge lump grew in the roadway, at a stiff enough angle that it was damaging both cars and larger truck and buses alike. I vividly recall nearly being re-ended by a driver who didn’t realize how slow one needed to go to not damage there car at this point in the road.
The road was closed on December 31st, 2008, and the repair project was suppose to only take 6 months. This, of course, stretched out into 2 years, with the bridge finally reopening in December of 2010.
Looking west, with the road deck stripped clean.
Looking north towards the control booth – this dirt patch is where the bridge is located when closed to marine traffic.
Temporary plank bridge for workers
It was during this period of closure that myself and ProZak went in for a far closer look than has ever been posted online of this project.
Access couldn’t have been simpler: we just walked right up and started shooting. There wasn’t anyone around to tell us otherwise, and no significant fencing or ‘no trespassing’ signs. The only sketchy part about this big-kids playground was the plank pedestrian bridge that workers had constructed to get to either side of the bridge. This bridge sat on the water’s surface, held up by pontoons. Trust me, you don’t want to take a dip in this waterway, especially not with the raw sewage outflow just 2 blocks up at the end of the waterway.
Looking west towards the corner / bridge pier that was sinking
A moot sign, since the DB drawbridge just to the south of this one cannot be opened as of this post’s publication date (perhaps it will be repaired)
A few quick words on this bridge – it is an extremely rare ‘retractile’ drawbridge. To open it to boat traffic, the bridge has iron wheels on the bottom and retracts sideways on tracks, into a pocket area just next to the creek. This allows for the maximum height and width clearance for marine traffic. (though there have been no boat movements through this waterway since 2005). There are only 4 retractile style drawbridges in the United States: One is located on the Gowanus Canal, and the other two are located in Boston.
For the ultimate guide to bridges in NYC, check out our pals at Bridgesnyc.com.
Wheels and rails under the bridge.
Views from the slowly sinking corner / west side pier that needed replacing.
Today, the bridge is open to traffic again, and the new walls constructed on the western end of the bridge seem to be holding up very well.