Dan Janison has been a reporter at Newsday since 1997.
Replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge seems to get a lion’s share of fanfare in New York’s transportation circles.
The crossing, which opened in 1955 and links Westchester with Rockland, even made the cover of President Barack Obama’s budget last year as a symbol of important federal investment. Each day drivers can look alongside the old bridge and marvel as a new one is assembled on the scenic Hudson.
Motorists who travel eastbound on the Kosciuszko Bridge, which opened in 1939, also see a modern replacement span rising, above the unsexy Newtown Creek.
And even if overshadowed by its northerly cousin, this toll-free, 6,021-foot span between Queens and Brooklyn can rightly be said to hold as much nuts-and-bolts importance for the region as the $5-per-trip, 16,013-foot Tappan Zee.
Take one key measure: Last year the aged Kosciuszko, which hooks up on the Queens side with the Long Island Expressway and Grand Central Parkway, handled a reported 184,025 vehicle trips per day while the Tappan Zee was said to accommodate about 135,000.
As Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo prepares to tout plans for all manner of new infrastructure in his annual legislative address on Wednesday, it is clear enough why elected officials of all stripes love these projects.
They are tangible and permanent. They create jobs. They are nonpartisan and, if done right, class-neutral. (Not to mention the side benefits for pols of campaign contributions and union support.) For a public beset by congestion from construction and battered old roadways, a new bridge rising promises not just a sight to see but a promise of some long-term relief.
The new Kosciuszko will have more lanes, wider lanes, actual shoulders, and less of the incline that now slows trucks. A Brooklyn-bound walkway/bikeway will be added, officials say.
The Transportation Department in 2014 awarded a $555 million contract for the first phase. The whole project is due for completion at the end of 2017.
Further west, recent widening has made the Staten Island Expressway a faster ride, and work is underway on a new version of the Goethals Bridge to New Jersey.
Cranes have filled the skies, as the governor likes to note.