Updated 07/11/2011 07:07 PM
MTA Plans Renovations As RFK Bridge Turns 75
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge with a photo exhibit, and $1 billion in renovations have been planned for the next 15 years. NY1’s Tina Redwine filed the following report.
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Construction on the Triboro Bridge started in 1929 and stopped almost immediately.
The stock market crashed just four days later.
After being rescued by the New Deal, it became one of the country's great public works projects, and when it officially opened on July 11, 1936, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was on hand as a sign of hope in the midst of the Great Depression.
“It was also a depression of spirit. The world was spiraling towards war, and what this country needed was a lift,” said Bob Singleton, executive director of the Astoria Historical Society. “Thousands of men worked on this bridge, not only in New York City, but across this country.”
Three years ago, Governor David Paterson renamed the bridge for former New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
The RFK is actually three bridges connecting Manhattan, Queens and The Bronx. It's considered one of the city's greatest engineering feats.
“We have over 20 traffic lanes converging,” said Singleton. “The cement that went into the bridge would be a four-lane highway down to Philadelphia.”
Some 170,000 vehicles cross the RFK every day. Officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority say $1 billion will be spent over the next 15 years to renovate the bridge and keep it in shape through its 100th anniversary.
“It's like performing open heart surgery on a marathon runner while he's running the marathon,” said James Fortunato, vice president of MTA Bridges and Tunnels. “We take small bites out of the work so that we make sure that we don’t have as many permanent closures.”
The MTA already installed steel decking that it says will result in no more pot holes. It replaced the bulbs with LED fixtures.
“Those lights will reduce our carbon footprint by 75 percent power reduction, and those will last seven years,” said Fortunato.
In honor of the anniversary, the Greater Astoria Historical Society is holding an exhibit of photos illustrating the bridge's history.
The photo exhibit is open through October and is free. For more information, visit AstoriaLIC.org.