Old City Island Bridge closes, temporary crossing opens

A cross section of the community with Polly Trottenberg, city DOT commissioner; Constance Moran, Bronx DOT commissioner; representatives from Congressman Joseph Crowley and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.; Senator Jeff Klein; Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Councilman James Vacca during a last walk and ride across the now closed City Island Bridge on Friday, December 18.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

City Islanders said a farewell to the island’s turn -of-the-20th-century bridge.

City Department of Transportation commissioner Polly Trottenberg was joined by Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Councilman James Vacca, and members City Island Civic Association, and City Island Chamber of Commerce in a walk and ride over the bridge for one last time on Friday, December 18.

Trottenberg called the moment “bittersweet” and said that century old green structure had ably serviced the island.

A temporary bridge, that was built next to the existing one, was put into service the same day.

“Together, we look forward to returning to open a wider, state-of-the art permanent bridge that will serve this beautiful, historic community for the next century,” she said.

The temporary bridge is comprised of seven sections and is anchored by six piers in the water.

Two firetrucks weight-tested the prefab structure on Wednesday, December 16.

When the new structure is completed, it will be 17 feet wider than the older bridge, and will continue to serve as the only point of access to the island for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists.

At the ceremony, Klein and Benedetto applauded Trottenberg and the de Blasio administration for heeding the community’s objections to the original bridge design.

The first design, approved by the Bloomberg administration, was deemed too modern my many islanders and was fought vigorously.

The senator recalled the proposed design, which included an 150-foot tall tower.

“Now we have a bridge that we can call the type of bridge that City Island deserves,” the senator said. “We say a fond farewell to this bridge which is now part of history.”

Benedetto likened the closing of the green-colored crossing with the community to saying goodbye to an old friend.

“We will all miss an old friend but we look forward to the coming of a new City Island Bridge which, I am sure, will serve us well,” he said.

Vacca said that while the classic look of the current City Island Bridge will be missed, he is looking forward to the new bridge.

Barbara Dolensek, CICA vice president led the fight to change the bridge’s design from a cable-stayed bridge to a causeway design. Dolensek was a plaintiff in a lawsuit to block the earlier design which has since been dropped.

“We fought City Hall and they gave into us eventually,” she said, adding “The commissioner did everything she could to make this project accept- able.”

Gerard ‘Skip’ Giacco, CICC presi- dent, said that the new bridge was part of the ‘natural evolution’ of the com- munity.

“The bridge is 114 years old and it istime to replace it, he said. “I am very happy with the design that they chose to replace it with.”

The closure of the old bridge can be a sad moment because it is a piece of the island’s history that is going to change, said John Doyle, CICA corresponding secretary. The CICC’s City Island Land Ferry was used for a final trip for those who wanted to or needed to ride across the bridge, said Giacco.

Tutor Perini is the lead contractor on the project.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
A walk across the now closed bridge was arranged by DOT on Friday, December 18. For those who wanted or needed to ride, the City Island Chamber’s City Island Land Ferry shuttle was available.
Community News Group / Patrick Rocchio

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