WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES DECEMBER 24, 2020 47
OUR NEIGHBORHOOD: THE WAY IT WAS
the Kosciuszko Bridge
primary traffi c generator, with three
lanes in each direction as well as two
The construction of the bridge was
a minor feat in and of itself. More
than 16,000 short tons of steel and
over 88,000 cubic yards of concrete
were used for the network of girders,
beams and supports.
A year later, in July 1940, the city
renamed the Meeker Avenue Bridge
as the Kosciuszko Bridge in honor of
Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish soldier
who fought alongside the Patriots in
the American Revolution. The bridge
became a source of pride for Polish-
American residents living on both
sides of the creek.
More than 15,000 people attended
the bridge renaming ceremony
that then-New York Mayor Fiorello
LaGuardia led on Sept. 22, 1940. The
renaming took on greater signifi cance
because of World War II; by that point,
Poland had been under Nazi German
occupation for more than a year.
After the war, the Kosciuszko
Bridge remained in place as the main
link between Meeker Avenue and
Laurel Hill Boulevard. But everything
changed with the construction of the
Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in the
The bridge was incorporated into
the roadway’s design, and the walkways
were removed to accommodate
additional traffi c lanes on the span.
With the completion of an interchange
with the new Long Island Expressway,
the span began seeing more traffi c
than ever before — in fact, more traffi c
than it was ever designed to handle.
The Kosciuszko was built to handle
a maximum 10,000 cars a day. But by
2017, when the fi rst new cable-stayed
span opened, daily traffi c on the steel
bridge was up to 180,000 vehicles a
day — of all sizes and types.
Needless to say, the heavy volume
resulted in tremendous wear-andtear
on the Kosciuszko Bridge, which
required constant maintenance in the
latter years of the steel span’s life. The
bridge’s odd format, with four lanes of
traffi c in each direction merging into
three over the center span, resulted
in a choke point that only exacerbated
the congestion problem.
In 2009, aft er a series of meetings
among local stakeholders over the
past several years, the state Department
of Transportation announced
the steel Kosciuszko Bridge would be
replaced by twin cable-stayed spans.
The structures were the fi rst of its
kind built in New York over the last
decade, preceding the reconstructed
Gowanus and Mario Cuomo (nee
Tappan Zee) Bridges. The fi rst cablestayed
span opened in April 2017,
on the southern side of the existing
bridge. All traffi c was shift ed onto
the new span while crews began the
laborious work of tearing down the
steel structure, to make room for the
second cable-stayed span.
In July 2017, the main truss of the
bridge over the creek was lowered
onto a barge and shipped to New
Jersey for recycling. Three months
later, the approaches were detonated
and the debris cleared away within
The second cable-stayed span rose
in its place and opened on Aug. 29,
2019. All of the BQE’s westbound traffi
c were shift ed to the newest bridge,
while the eastbound traffi c remained
on the fi rst span.
The newest span also includes a pedestrian
and bike path, something that
hadn’t been provided on the bridge in
about four decades.
With four westbound lanes and
five eastbound lanes, the bridge
was thought to be the panacea to the
Kosciuszko’s traffi c woes. But lo and
behold, right aft er the second span
opened, there were plenty of reports
of traffi c tie-ups on the span.
Next week, we’ll look at the Metropolitan
Avenue and Grand Street Bridges.
* * *
If you have any remembrances or old
photographs of “Our Neighborhood: The
Way It Was” that you would like to share
with our readers, please write to the Old
Timer, c/o Ridgewood Times, 38-15 Bell
Blvd., Bayside, NY 11361, or send an
email to editorial@ridgewoodtimes.
com. Any print photographs mailed to
us will be carefully returned to you upon
The westbound approach to the then-Meeker Avenue Bridge, as seen from Long Island City.
Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives/Reprinted with permission
The illuminated fi rst cable-stayed span of the Kosciuszko Bridge in May 2017. Photo via Governor’s offi ce