On the evening of July 25, 2017, the main span of the K bridge was finally lowered onto a barge to be shipped off for recycling. It was an evening ten years in the making.
The K bridge in 2011
Contrary to what Andrew Cuomo would have you believe, the NY State Department of Transportation began working on the Kosciusko bridge replacement project sometime before 2007, under then governor Eliot ‘Sexy Time’ Spitzer. The first large, tangible evidence this project came in the form of a huge DOT report published in 2007. Weighing in at over eight pounds and consisting of several hundred pages, this document laid the groundwork for much of what was to come. It contained several options for replacing the bridge, or supplementing it with a second span. Ultimately, these plans were modified and replaced with the two new bridge option being constructed today.
(Phone charging cable shown for scale)
This option would have kept the existing bridge
In 2010, the first real physical changes began to take place on the ground. In order to build the two new bridges, several buildings would have to be demolished. The very first of them were also the only residential homes to be affected by this work, on the Queens side of the bridge in a neighborhood locally known as Laurel Hill. I’ve previously written about these homes here.
After a long lull, demolition work restarted in 2013. Several industrial buildings on either side of the bridge were demolished. These buildings included a warehouse for food carts, a door factory, an electrics supplier and several smaller warehouses. Also removed were numerous visually polluting, vacant advertising billboards.
I knew that to document these buildings, there would only be a small window of time between the businesses moving out and demolition. Many hours of persistent patrolling went into accessing nearly all of them. Towards the end, I was by no means the only person watching. During this small window of time, several graffiti artists co-opted some of the buildings for art installations.
With the buildings cleared out, the DOT made surprisingly fast work of constructing the new span. I was the first non-contractor to walk over the new bridge when the Brooklyn and Queens sides were finally connected.
Inside the new Bridge tower
This past spring, the old span was finally closed to traffic, again creating a very small window of time for photographers and other creatives to have some fun on the old span. Unbeknownst to me at the time, another group was making late night use of this space. Despite numerous trips, we never actually ran into each other on, each wondering if anyone else was paying attention this this wonderful space.
I will forever have fond memories of these nights of photographing the bridge. One of my favorite nights up here was a humid, misty, fog-filled night that shrouded the old span in clouds lit to the purples and reds glowing from the new span’s colored LED lamps. Having the entire span to myself, up in the clouds, was other-worldly.
Tracking this massive project over the last ten years has been something of an explorers delight. It was the gift that kept on giving. One day I hope to publish something a bit more comprehensive and in-depth on everything that went into this project, but for now I can only offer this preview.
Part of me is sad to see the old span gone, while the driver in me knows this project has been long overdue. Onward I say. Onward to imploding the approach ramps. Onward to building the second bridge, and onward to the day when a pedestrian and cycling path allows the public access to one of the best views of NYC to be found.