The Kosciuszko Bridge is going out with a bang, after state officials announced this week a surprise plan to blow it up so a replacement can open more quickly. But now some local officials are raising concerns. NY1's Matt McClure filed the following report.
The Kosciusko Bridge has stood for 77 years, connecting Brooklyn and Queens on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Almost 200,000 cross the bridge each day.
It's being replaced with two brand new spans, a welcome change for local leaders.
What's not welcome, they say, is the potential public health risks of how it will be demolished.
"We look forward to the opening of our new bridge, but we got to make sure that the air quality, and the quality for our communities — again as the borough president said — is our first concern," said Tommy Torres, the district leader, of the 53rd Assembly District.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office announced last week plans to blow up the old span this summer, after the first phase of the new Kosciuszko opens in the spring.
The controlled implosion is supposed to speed up construction of the second phase by at least seven months.
"We want to save our waterways, we want to save the air quality in this community," Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said at a Greenpoint press conference. "We don't want to take the giant steps forward that we have taken just to take three steps back."
Local groups say they also are upset because they heard about the demolition plan through the media, and had no input.
"We've enjoyed a pretty transparent relationship with New York State DOT [department of transportation]," said local activist Laura Hoffman. "And we just don't want that ruined."
"I sit on the area board for the Kosciusko Bridge. I've sat on that board for the past five years," said Gerald Esposito of Brooklyn Community Board 1. "There was no mention of implosion or explosion or any other form of dynamiting the structure."
"If a significant decision is being made about an explosion, the community should be consulted," said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who represents parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan.
Cuomo's office says the demolition will be done in the safest way possible. It says crews will only use explosives to weaken the structure so it will fall, much like the implosion of a building.
The governor's office also says the part of the bridge that crosses Newtown Creek will be dismantled without explosives so there will be no danger to the waterway.
The governor's office adds that when he was attorney general, Andrew Cuomo led the effort to clean up Newtown Creek, so the suggestion that he would be doing something to damage it doesn't make sense.