The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has approved a capital improvement proposal to refurbish the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge in which the trusses will be removed and the deck will be recast in a material that is lighter than the traditionally used concrete.
Cathy Sweeney, a spokeswoman for MTA Bridges and Tunnels, said Monday the board recently met and voted to approve the plan, budgeting $256 million for the restoration over a five-year period.
Financed by money collected through tolls, the project will be separated into two phases, the first beginning this fall when the trusses, support structures, are to be replaced with fairings, a structure that limits the swaying of suspension bridges, Sweeney said.
In the other, more lengthy phase, the bridges concrete roadway is to be replaced with one made out of a lighter material like asphalt. That is to begin in 2003 and will last five years, she said.
When its finished, removing the trusses and putting on the fairings, it will look more like the bridge looked when it opened in 1939, Sweeney said. She said the work was being done to lighten the load of the bridge, thus extending the life of the suspension cables.
The bridge, which connects the Bronx with Queens across the East River, cost the city more than $17 million, an amount financed through bonds, in 1939. At the time, it was the fourth-longest suspension bridge in the world, built in 23 months. But when it was designed, engineers had failed to consider the added truck traffic that would result in years to come.
The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge was constructed a year before the Tacoma-Narrows in Washington state, a suspension bridge that oscillated so much from winds that it ultimately collapsed. That bridge and the Bronx-Whitestone, both similar in construction, were designed by the same man, Othmar Ammann.
A few years after construction was completed, the bridge was connected to the parkways in the Bronx and Queens, opening up access between Long Island and Westchester. It originally was a four-lane bridge but was expanded to six lanes after two pedestrian walkways were removed.
©2001 Community News Group
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