It’s a big year for the Triborough Bridge. Now known officially as the RFK Bridge, the three-span structure is celebrating its 75th anniversary this month with a photo exhibit at the Greater Astoria Historical Society and, more importantly, a $1-billion, 15-year overhaul. The bridge, which saw 11 million cars pass through it during its first year of operation, now hosts 60 million vehicles a year, and the overhaul is badly needed.
The MTA, in a press released, detailed the plans. Many of the bridge structures that support the toll plazas will be completely reconstructed while its seven ramps will be replaced or rehabilitated as well. “Motorists will see work going on at the RFK Bridge well into the next decade,” Bridges and Tunnels President Jim Ferrara said. “Each project is vitally important to insure that the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge continues to be a vibrant link in the region’s transportation network.”
The bulk of the funds will go toward toll plaza work. Design on the Bronx toll plaza reconstruction will start this year with construction to commence in 2014. The Manhattan toll plazas will be overhauled during the MTA’s 2015-2019 capital plan, and that actual roadwork won’t start until 2019. In the eight-year interim, the MTA is going to replace a bunch of old asphalt on the road to prevent water from seeping into the concrete decking.
“It is a massive challenge maintaining and caring for 2.6 million square feet of roadway decking and infrastructure while maintaining traffic for the nearly 60 million cars and trucks that go through the Bronx and Manhattan plazas each year,” said MTA Bridges and Tunnels Chief Engineer Joe Keane. “Each project is designed to minimize customer impact by working off-peak when possible and safely maintaining as many lanes of traffic as we can.”
Meanwhile, to celebrate the bridge’s birthday, the MTA along with the Greater Astoria Historical Society will open an exhibit entitled “A Planner’s Dream, an Engineer’s Triumph, a Legacy to our City” at the Quinn Gallery in Long Island City. These images are going to delve into the Bridges and Tunnels photo archive. “This is a perfect way to bring the three communities that the RFK Bridge serves together to celebrate the 75th anniversary of our oldest bridge, which played such a vital role in the development of modern New York City history,” Ferrara said.
The Triborough — three bridges, one viaduct and 14 miles of approach roads — cost $60.3 million to construct. That’s just a hair under $1 billion in 2011 money so the overhaul is going to cost nearly the same as it did to build the thing in the first place. Crazy, huh?