Film ‘The New City Island Bridge’ documents reconstruction process

The construction of a temporary bridge during this past winter is seen in the ongoing film project: The New City Island Bridge.
Photo courtesy of The New City Island Bridge

A new film project is documenting the end of the lifespan of a bridge that has been an intregal part of a north Bronx community for over a century.

James and Tommy Breen, two City Island natives and filmmakers, are producing what they one day plan to turn into a full-length feature documentary about the bridge’s replacement.

The film, which has video already available on a Facebook page, goes under the working title ‘The New City Island Bridge.’

It combines images of the construction of a temporary bridge to the island that is almost complete, as well as images of the building of a new permanent bridge with recollections from community members about the whole process, explained James.

About 20 to 30 hours of the documentary’s early footage focuses on the construction of a temporary bridge that will be put into place so a new bridge can be built, he said.

“I was a full-time contractor for many years so I have been very interested in construction,” he said, adding that narration and interviews would eventually be added.

“I am trying to capture the most visually interesting things the construction workers do, like when they are moving a large section of the (temporary) bridge into place,” he added.

In an effort to film the ongoing construction while not having access to the worksite, Breen said that he and his brother have used camera-equipped drones, providing some striking images of the reconstruction process.

The drones have been very helpful in gaining photo access to the most difficult situations, he said.

He recently spoke on behalf of allowing photographers to keep using drones, as states and municipalities look into regulating or banning their use all together.

“You can get something that you can carry around in a backpack and you can tell your story in a compelling way, and it would be a shame if that were regulated out of existence,” said Breen of drone photography.

The brothers have also begun interviews with islanders.

Barbara Dolensek, one of the key plaintiffs in a lawsuit that may have forced a bridge redesign just before construction began, lauded the film project.

Any important project needs to be documented in some way, she said, and the Breen brothers seem to be the chroniclers of the new bridge.

“What James is doing is a beautiful and timely piece,” said Dolensek, adding “What he is doing is important and I just wish they would grant him greater access.”

She also said that the film project appears to be doing more than chronicling the construction and demolition of two bridges, but has turned into a documenting of the community.

To view video and images available from The New City Island Bridge, go to Facebook and search the title.

You can visit the Facebook page directly at

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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