Friday, November 5, 2010

Bridge of the Week #35: Madison Ave. Bridge

Just in time for the New York Marathon, here's the last of the five bridges that the runners cross - the Madison Ave. Bridge. I've already covered (in order, and yes I planned it that way) the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, the Pulaski Bridge, teh Queensboro Bridge, the Willis Ave. Bridge and now the Madison Ave. Bridge. It comes at the 21 mile mark when runners cross the Harlem River from the Bronx back into Manhattan.
This bridge is a swing bridge with a 300-foot swing span and a total length of 1,892 feet. It carries four lanes of traffic, two in each direction, and has sidewalks on both sides. The Bronx entrance is at E. 138 St. and the Major Deegan Expressway ramps, just west of the Grand Concourse. (Here the numbered streets of the two boroughs line up, although by the time you get up to the Jerome Reservoir, they're about 30 blocks off. While the street planning and layout of Manhattan and the Bronx is a fascinating subject, it is beyond the scope of this blog.) On the Manhattan side, the bridge splits, with Bronx-bound traffic, one lane of Manhattan-bound traffic and the south sidewalk entering (or exiting as the case may be) at 135 St. and Madison Ave. But one lane of Manhattan-bound traffic, which the marathon runners use, and the north sidewalk exits at 138 St. and 5th Ave. It was opened on July 18, 1910 and replaced a swing bridge on the same site that was opened in 1884 after New York City annexed three Westchester County towns on the west side of the Bronx River in 1874. Both the old and new bridges were designed by Alfred Boller, who also designed the original 145 St. Bridge, Macombs Dam and University Heights Bridges.
So that concludes the series of New York Marathon bridges. But don't worry, many more bridges to come, including ----- another retractable bridge; the only bridge to connect three boroughs (any guesses?); not one, not two, but THREE bridges to New Jersey(!); and a special bonus feature on a very special viaduct that we all know and love. So remember, keep your feet on the ground (but no more than one at a time) and keep reaching for the stars.

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