NYC Transports, Bridges and Tunnels

By pjain      Published Jan. 9, 2020, 9:24 p.m. in blog Invest   

NYC Transportation key factors and trends

NYC Harbors made it gateway to US

New York's harbor and multiple waterways are what ONCE made it the center of trade to Europe - it was simply better all-weather than Boston the original landing of Pilgrims, and the nearest competition is far to south. However, now NYC is not competitive - the harbors of PA and the South dominate.

Highways of NYC and Gridlock


Transportation, Bridges and Tunnels

Key Facts

NYC is a city of bridges and tunnels. Over 2,000 of them provide uninterrupted vehicular movement throughout the region.

  • The George Washington Bridge, Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge are considered among the most beautiful in the world.

  • The numbers in map refers to bridges and tunnels below.

Innovation and Civil Engineering enabled NYC Growth

  • Bridges and Tunnels represent Technological innovation eg Holland Tunnel was the first underwater, and others were the longest bridges of their times.

The George Washington Bridge and Verrazano Narrows Bridge were the world's longest suspension bridges when opened in 1931 and 1964 respectively.


Several agencies claim jurisdiction over this network of crossings including - Port Authority of New York and New Jersey - Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) - DOT - New York State Department of Transportation - New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) - Amtrak - New York City Department of Parks

Manhattan's Main Bridges

New York City's East River bridges : Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queensboro, and Williamsburg Bridges are principal gateways to and from Manhattan.

One of the keys is that residents choose to live near the bridge or subway that gets them as close as possible to their daytime jobs on Manhattan island.

The four East River bridges in New York City typically carry about 493,000 vehicles and 340,000 subway riders daily, and are expected to carry many more vehicles and subway passengers when a $2.8 billion rehabilitation program is completed in 2012.

10. Manhattan Bridge 1909 2.1 km

It is a double-level cable suspension bridge with steel truss approach spans. This bridge spans the East River between Brooklyn and Manhattan. The bridge's main span extends 448 meters (1,470 feet), and the entire bridge spans 2,089 meters (6,855 feet). Four main cables support the suspended spans. These cables are supported by two steel towers and are anchored by concrete gravity structures at each end. The bridge carries a total of seven lanes of vehicular traffic and four subway tracks.

11. Brooklyn Bridge 1883 1.8 km

  • Brooklyn to Manhattan over East River

The Brooklyn Bridge was constructed between 1870 and 1883, and opened to traffic on May 24, 1883. It was the first suspension bridge built in New York City and the most celebrated of the East River bridges. The bridge stretches 1,834 meters (6,016 feet) in length and rises 41 meters (135 feet) above the river channel, with four cables supporting the bridge deck. Its main span of 486 meters (1,596 feet) between towers was the world's longest at the time. The towers, with their Gothic arches and massive granite masonry, continue to be a powerful presence in the social and physical life of New York City.

When it first opened, the Brooklyn Bridge supported two lanes for cable cars and four lanes for horse-drawn vehicles. In 1898 the bridge was modified to accommodate four lanes for mass transit and two for other vehicles. Growing automobile use after World War II led to the complete removal of all tracks and the redesign of the truss carrying the roadway. Today the bridge carries six vehicular lanes.

8. Williamsburgh Bridge 1903 2.2 km

  • Brooklyn to Manhattan over East River

It is well known for its functional importance such as the Williamsburg Bridge which has 2 heavy rail transit tracks, 8 traffic lanes and a pedestrian sidewalk.

The Williamsburg Bridge connects Manhattan's Lower East Side with the Brooklyn community of Williamsburg. The bridge is a major East River crossing and carries traffic flow in and out of Lower Manhattan. The bridge was built over a period of 7 years and was officially opened to traffic on December 19, 1903. With a total length of 2,227 meters (7,308 feet), it was the world's longest suspension bridge and provided double the load-carrying capacity of the Brooklyn Bridge. The total deck's length, anchorage to anchorage, is 851 meters (2,793 feet). The central span extends 488 meters (1,600 feet) between the main towers and is suspended from the main cables. The side spans, each 182 meters (596 feet), are not suspended from the main cables but are supported by their own towers. The Williamsburg Bridge carries a total of eight traffic lanes and two subway tracks.

5. Queensborough Bridge 1909 1.1km

  • Queens to Manhattan over East River

The Queensboro Bridge was officially opened to traffic on June 18, 1909, connecting Manhattan in the vicinity of 59th Street and the borough of Queens at Queensboro Plaza. The total length of this cantilever truss bridge between anchorages is 1,135 meters (3,725 feet), and it extends across both channels of the East River and Roosevelt Island. With nine vehicle lanes and one lane devoted to pedestrian and bicycle traffic only, the Queensboro Bridge currently carries more traffic than any other East River bridge.

Major Bridges

QUEENS: 6. Queens Midtown Tunnel

Queens-BRONX: 4. Triborough Bridge 1936 1.6km

  • Triborough Bridge (RFK Triborough Bridge) connects Manhattan, Queens, and The Bronx, and leads into the Grand Central Parkway

NJ: 1. George Washington Bridge 1931 1.5km

The George Washington Bridge and Verrazano Narrows Bridge were the world's longest suspension bridges when opened in 1931 and 1964 respectively.

NJ: 7. Lincoln Tunnel

Lincoln Tunnel connects midtown Manhattan to Weehawken New Jersey.

NJ: 9. Holland Tunnel 1927

The Holland Tunnel was the world's first vehicular tunnel when it opened in 1927.

  • The Holland Tunnel was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1993 in recognition of its pioneering role as the first mechanically ventilated vehicular underwater tunnel, operating since 1927.

  • Holland Tunnel connects lower Manhattan to New Jersey.

BROOKLYN: 12. Brooklyn Battery Tunnel

BRONX: 2. Third Avenue Bridge

BRONX: 3. Willis Avenue Bridge

Staten NJ: 13. Goethals Bridge

Staten Brooklyn: Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and I-278 202k/day 1964 1.3km

The Verrazano Narrows Bridge was the world's longest suspension bridges when opened 1964 respectively.

  • It carries 202k vehicles/day
  • Tolls range from $3.5-$5.5 for Staten Island, to $12.24 EZ-pass and $19 by Tolls By Mail and non-NYC EZPass
  • It supports 13 lanes of I-278 (7 lanes on upper level 1964 : 6 fixed-direction, 1 reversible HOV lane; 6 lanes on lower level opened 1969).

Smaller Bridges of NYC

Roosevelt Island Bridge 1955 0.9km

Hell Gate Bridge 1916 5181.6 m

Rikers Island Bridge 1966 1280.16 m

Bronx Whitestone Bridge 1939 1149.10 m

Throgs Neck Bridge 1961 886.97 m

History and Politics of NY

  • 1693-1917 New York's crossings date back to 1693, when its first bridge, known as the King's Bridge, was constructed over Spuyten Duyvil Creek between Manhattan and the Bronx. The bridge, composed of stone abutments and a timber deck, was demolished in 1917.

  • The oldest crossing still standing is Highbridge which connects Manhattan to the Bronx over the Harlem River. This bridge was built to carry water to the city as part of the Croton Aqueduct system.

1911 Era of Gay 20s Prosperity

  • as of 1911 - Existing & proposed bridges New York City

McCarren Bridge Proposed - never build

Sandwiched very tightly between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge connecting lower Manhattan with Brooklyn, is a proposed new bridge which was to be called the McCarren Bridge named after “Long Pat” McCarren (1847-1909) a state senator who was Brooklyn’s Democratic political boss during the late 1800’s. Borings were even made at the site, but the McCarren Bridge was never built.

Rebuilding Brooklyn Bridge Proposed

The engineers feared that the increase in heavy traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge would necessitate additional strength being added, otherwise a support or cable might give way causing a horrible catastrophe.

Hell Gate Bridge 1916 - smaller bridge

It was begun in 1912 and completed in

Jersey City Buildout - NYC 1927-1930s

The need for a bridge connecting New Jersey with Manhattan had been desired for many years. So it should come as no surprise that three different possible locations were proposed in 1911 for what was then called The New York and New Jersey Interstate Bridge. The leading site candidates on the New York side were 57th Street, 110th Street and 179th Street.

More underground tunnels were built instead of more bridges which were more expensive in real estate on Manhattan side. Also tunnels integrate better with subways for volume passenger flows.

  • The George Washington Bridge, was eventually constructed from 1927 – 1931 on the 179th Street site.
  • Holland Tunnel (opened 1927)
  • Lincoln Tunnel (opened 1937)

Queens Bridges were a later 1930s effort

The later additions of the Midtown Tunnel (opened 1940) and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel (opened 1950) helped traffic flow between Manhattan to Queens and Brooklyn respectively.


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