Friday, June 18, 2010

Bridge of the Week #18: Greenpoint Ave. Bridge

This week's bridge is the Greenpoint Ave. Bridge that carries Greenpoint Ave. over Newtown Creek, connecting Greenpoint, Brooklyn at Kingsland Ave. and Blissville, Queens at Review Ave./Van Dam St. Greenpoint Ave. eventually, in Sunnyside, Queens, turns into Roosevelt Ave. The bridge is also known as the J.J. Byrne Memorial Bridge, after James J. Byrne, Brooklyn borough president from 1926-1930. (Blissville, by the way, was named after a man named Neziah Bliss, not because it's so beautiful and heavenly, which it most certainly is not, being a heavily industrialized area.) Greenpoint (originally Green Point), the area that includes the piece of land that sticks out into the East River, was so named by Dutch navigators I believe back in the 1630's.

This is a twin-leaf bascule bridge with 45.4 meters horizontal clearance when open and 7.9 meters vertical clearance when closed. It carries two lanes of traffic in each direction and sidewalks on each side. It is one of the newer bridges in the city, having been built in 1987, although there were five different bridges previously on the site, the earliest being called the Blissville Bridge. The most recent was built in 1900 and extensively rebuilt in 1919 after damaged by fire. Before the fire, the bridge also carried tracks for the Long Island Railroad. It sits about 1.3 miles from where the Newtown Creek flows into the East River, and less than a mile upcreek from the Pulaski Bridge. The draw is opened several hundred times a year for both vessels and for tests, but in the early days the Newtown Creek saw more traffic than the Mississippi River, reportedly.

The pavement on both the sidewalks and the streets is pretty beat up. And apparently bicyclists have been having trouble competing with cars for road space, often causing them to take to the sidewalks, which is probably not so bad since I doubt pedestrian traffic there is heavy. It wasn't when I was there. But renovations are set to begin this month and be completed in the fall, and word has it that bike lanes will be included at the expense of one lane of traffic in each direction, but that doesn't sit well with some of the indutry owners in the area.

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