Friday, October 22, 2010

Bridge of the Week #30: Eastern Boulevard Bridge

This week's bridge (and again, I'm about three weeks behind) is the Eastern Boulevard Bridge in the Bronx. This is a dual double-leaf bascule drawbridge that carries the Bruckner Expressway and Bruckner Boulevard over the Bronx River, one bridge for east-bound and one for west-bound traffic. The bridge connects Bronx River Ave. in the Sound View neighborhood on the east side of the river to the Hunt's Point area on the west. The bridge can be accessed on foot directly from Edgewater Ave. on the west, although there is an additional, fixed, span westward over Amtrak's rail lines.

For the stats, the bridge has a total length of 634 feet. Each side, east-bound and west-bound, carries three lanes of expressway traffic (Bruckner Expressway), two lanes of local traffic (Bruckner Boulevard) and one sidewalk.

The history of the bridge is tied to the history of the espressway, and explains its name. Eastern Boulevard was a major artery in the first half of the 20th century that ran along the eastern and southern edge of the Bronx. In the 1940's Robert Moses and other city officials decided to convert it into an expressway, mainly for the purpose of connecting Westchester County and Connecticut with the Triboro Bridge. So they did, and much of it they elevated over the boulevard, keeping the boulevard available for local traffic. Both were renamed after former Bronx borough president Henry Bruckner, who died in 1942. The original drawbridge, which opened in 1930, is still used for west-bound traffic. The second bridge, for east-bound traffic, was opened on October 27, 1953. The entire expressway, however, wasn't completed until 1972.

Most of my internet sources list the bridge as Eastern Boulevard Bridge, its original name. A New York Times article and another reliable Web site, however, call it the Bruckner Drawbridge ("formerly the EAstern Boulevard Bridge"). But the NYC Dept. of Transportation Web site calls it Eastern Boulevard Bridge, so that's what I'm going with, even though Eastern Boulevard is just a memory.

As I mentioned with the Westchester Ave. Bridge, there is a new riverside park between the two bridges (about half a mile) on the west side, which is a nice antidote to the otherwise visually unappealing surroundings. But on the east, it's a short run southeastward to Soundview Park, which has a lot to offer for running and all types of recreation. For public transportation, the Whitlock Ave. station on the 6 train is closest to the bridge on the west side, just to the north, near the Westchester Ave. Bridge.

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