Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Roosevelt Island Bridge

Roosevelt Island Bridge, January 27, 2010
Keith Nelson on a 26", Michael Richter on a 24", Rob Hickman on a 26", Kyle Petersen on a 20"

It was a cold morning. Michael Richter was running late. A neighbor snapped a picture of us atop our one wheeled wonders as we headed out on our five and a half mile journey to Roosevelt Island. I am familiar with Roosevelt Island, having been commissioned to build a sculpture there. I refreshed my history of the island the night before the ride. I knew the route like the back of my hand. I was also aware the bridge was in the middle of a renovation project. We rode today with official touring cards, handing them out to pedestrians along the route. After pedaling over the Pulaski bridge into Long Island City, we heard a guy exlaim to his friend, "What the fuck! Hey Joe! Take a look at that shit!". We decided to stop by Silvercup studios to see if they needed any unicycle riding extras today. A teamster working for The Sopranos took our picture in front of the Silvercup cafe. Afterwards we headed north. Kyle Petersen was almost slammed by a car at 40th Avenue at 21st Street. As expected, there was a large construction site set up at the Roosevelt Island bridge. To the right of the entrance was a radar controlled 'your speed is' sign. Time trials soon commenced. Kyle Petersen had the fastest time at 11MPH - pretty impressive on a 20" unicycle. We crossed the bridge and took the circular ramp down onto the island. We pedaled along Main Street to the subway station where my sculpture sits. I asked the attendant if we could take our picture in front of the sculpture, but he wouldn't let us into the station. I wasn't able get a hold of his supervisor, so we took the picture on the outside of the station looking in through the glass. There we met a friendly gentleman who was impressed by Keith's familiarity with The King Charles Troupe. We headed over to the east channel to take some better pictures of the Roosevelt Island bridge and to perform a few death defying stunts for a couple of kids who had cut school. Afterwards we crossed the bridge back into Queens. A guy on Vernon Avenue complained that we were riding in the bike lane. We stopped at an interesting cycle related public sculpture called Urban Garden sponsored by Recycle a Bicycle We pedaled to the Pepsi sign in Long Island City along the East river, and photographed plenty of unicycle porn in front of the Manhattan skyline. We finished the ride back to Brooklyn and had a couple shots of whiskey at Keith's place before we called it a day. 13 miles pedaled. It was our 23rd bridge crossing. Next week we're doing the Bayonne bridge, from Staten Island to Bayonne, New Jersey. For a start time and place contact Rob or Keith

From New York City Department of Transportation:
The Roosevelt Island Bridge is a tower drive, vertical lift, movable bridge across the East Channel of the East River between the borough of Queens and Roosevelt Island, New York City. The span length is 418 feet. It was known as the Welfare Island Bridge when it was first opened to traffic in 1955. The bridge is the only means of vehicular access to Roosevelt Island. Prior to construction, the bridge carried two 17-foot lanes of vehicular traffic and a 6-foot sidewalk. The bridge is used by both pedestrians and vehicles with increased volume during rush hours. The Queens approach begins at the intersection of Vernon Boulevard and 36th Avenue.

From Wikipedia:
The Roosevelt Island Bridge is a lift bridge that connects Roosevelt Island to Astoria, Queens in Queens, crossing the East Channel of the East River. It is the sole route to the island for vehicular and foot traffic (without using public transportation).
Construction of the bridge began on March 17, 1952, at a cost of $6.5 million. It opened on May 18, 1955, as the Welfare Island Bridge. The name was changed to the Roosevelt Island Bridge in 1973.[2]
When the bridge is open it provides ships with 100 feet (30 m) of vertical clearance. It is 40 feet (12 m) wide, and its total length, including approaches, is 2,877 feet (877 m). The main span is 418 feet (127 m).
Before the bridge was constructed, the only way vehicles vehicles could access Roosevelt Island was via an elevator on the Queensboro Bridge.
The Roosevelt Island Bridge provides direct access to the Motorgate Parking Garage, which was designed to minimize vehicular traffic on the island. The garage was completed in 1974 and later expanded in 1990.
In 2001, the New York City Department of Transportation considered converting the Roosevelt Island Bridge into a fixed bridge to reduce the cost of its maintenance. The bridge is rarely opened because most vessels passing by Roosevelt Island use the West Channel of the East River.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Macombs Dam Bridge

Macombs Dam Bridge, January 20, 2010
Michael Richter on a 20", Keith Nelson on a 26", Daryll John on a 20", Rob Hickman on a 26"

After crossing the Macombs Dam Bridge we headed straight to the new Yankee Stadium to do a little ride around the infield. They wouldn't let us in so we rode around the stadium. On the back side of Yankee Stadium we found a Unicycle park where Keith, Daryll and Michael showed off all their fancy tricks. We saw some folks there riding strange two-wheeled unicycles that had hand turning mechanisms.

From the New York City Department of Transportation:
The Macombs Dam Bridge connects West 155th Street in Manhattan with East 161st Street and Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. It is a major route from Manhattan to Yankee Stadium. The major features crossed are Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (Seventh Avenue,) the Harlem River Drive, the Harlem River, the Oak Point Link, and the Major Deegan Expressway. This landmark is the oldest extant swing-type bridge in its original form in New York City. Furthermore, it is the City's third-oldest major bridge. The mainline structure is a through-truss swing span. It was designated an official New York City landmark in January 1992. This bridge carries two lanes of traffic in each direction. The roadway (curb to curb) width on the swing span is about 12.19 m. The pedestrian sidewalk width varies from 1.83 m to 2.90 m.

The idea of constructing a bridge in its present location was initiated by Robert Macomb in 1810. The Legislature awarded Mr. Macomb the right to erect a dam; one-half of the toll for crossing the bridge was to be donated to the poor, and boats were to pass freely through a lock. The bridge was constructed in 1814. The new dam, however, proceeded to flood meadows upstream and obstruct boat navigation. In 1839 a group of citizens breached the dam with a coal-carrying vessel; this act was deemed legal by the courts, who maintained that "it was a public nuisance to obstruct the navigation." A new swing bridge was commissioned and opened in 1861 as the Central Bridge. This structure required many repairs and modifications due to rotting of the wooden components. In 1892 the Passaic Rolling Mill Company was awarded the contract for a new bridge, designed by Alfred P. Boller. This bridge officially opened in 1895, at a cost of $2,537,312. It was renamed the Macombs Dam Bridge in 1902. New ramp connections were constructed on the Bronx side in 1920, when Yankee Stadium was being built.

145th Street Bridge

145th Street Bridge, January 20, 2010
Rob Hickman on a 26", Keith Nelson on a 26", Michael Richter on a 20", Daryll John on a 20"

Michael Richter shows off his stuff.

From the New York City Department of Transportation:
145th Street is a four-lane local City street in Manhattan and the Bronx. The bridge connects West 145th Street and Lenox Avenue in Manhattan with East 149th Street and River Avenue in the Bronx. The location of the bridge is approximately 1,250m south of the Macombs Dam Bridge and 650m north of the Madison Avenue Bridge. The 145th Street Bridge is a swing type bridge with three through-trusses. It is an eight-span structure carrying four lanes of vehicular traffic over the Harlem River Drive, the Harlem River, and Metro-North Railroad. Spans 1 and 2 were constructed in 1957 when the bridge was extended to span the Harlem River Drive. Spans 6, 7 and 8 were reconstructed in 1990 in place of the original Bronx flanking span to provide a right-of-way for the Oak Point Link. The bridge carries four 3.6m lanes, two in each direction, plus a 2.7m sidewalk on each side of the bridge. The west and east approach roadways are 17m and 41m wide, respectively.

Towards the end of the 19th century, rapid growth in the vicinity created the need for an additional Harlem River crossing. The initial design of the bridge, by Alfred P. Boller working for the architectural firm of Messrs Clinton and Russell, was based on the recently built Macombs Dam Bridge, but was modified to accommodate an expected growth in travel across the river. The bridge was delayed due to the construction of an IRT subway tunnel under one pier, and finally opened in 1905. The construction firm was Rodgers, McMullen, & McBean, and the cost was $2,742,139.

The New York City Department of Transportation Division of Bridges is pleased to announce a major milestone in the reconstruction of the 145th Street Bridge over the Harlem River. Effective June 16, 2007, at 7:00 am, all four lanes of traffic (two lanes in each direction) will be open to motorists, and the north sidewalk will continue to be open to pedestrians.

Miscellaneous construction work will continue in order to complete construction. DOT engineers will continue to test the communications, electrical, and mechanical systems and perform inspections to ensure that all construction work has been satisfactory. DOT will close the bridge intermittently during overnight hours for the testing and punch list work.

The reconstructed bridge includes a new swing span, new machinery and an electrical system, a new approach roadway and spans, railing, fencing, lighting, and signals. A new Operator's House has been centered and installed. See a detailed description of the project in the brochure in pdf format.

Variable Message Boards will continue to display up-to-date information about the construction activities. Traffic Enforcement Agents will continue to direct traffic in the area during night time bridge closures.

Bridge Closures
The bridge was entirely closed to traffic on November 1, 2006 and the center swing span was removed. Following the removal of the existing swing span and reconstruction of the center pier, the new swing span was floated into place, connecting the Bronx spans with the Manhattan spans, on February 9, 2007. DOT reopened one lane in each direction and the north sidewalk on March 22, 2007.

After being assembled off-site, the new bridge was floated down the Hudson River, around the tip of lower Manhattan, up the East River and was moored near the recently reconstructed Third Avenue Bridge. In February 2007, when the preparatory work was complete, the new 145th Street Bridge was floated up the Harlem River to its final destination.

Madison Avenue Bridge

Madison Avenue Bridge, January 20, 2010
Michael Richter on a 20", Keith Nelson on a 26", Daryll John on a 20", Rob Hickman on a 26"

From the New York City Department of Transportation:
Madison Avenue is a local street, located between Fifth and Park Avenues on the east side of Manhattan. The road extends from 23rd Street in Manhattan to East 138th Street in the Bronx. The Madison Avenue Bridge is a four-lane, four-span swing bridge, carrying traffic between Madison and Fifth Avenues and East 138th Street in Manhattan and East 138th Street and Grand Concourse in the Bronx. The bridge is located approximately 650 m south of the 145th Street Bridge and about 750 m north of the Third Avenue Bridge. The bridge has two roadways, each 8.23 m wide, as well as two 2.743 m sidewalks.

In 1874, residents in the vicinity asked for the construction of a bridge from 1 38th Street (then in Westchester) to Madison Avenue in New York, and funds were appropriated the following year. Due to the uneven topography and relatively undeveloped landscape, the proposed bridge required substantial pier and approach construction. The superstructure, composed of iron, was contracted to the Keystone Bridge Company in 1882. The swing bridge was opened in 1884 at a cost of $509,106. The area's growth quickly necessitated the construction of another, larger bridge. The current bridge opened on July 18, 1910, at a cost of $1,155,987.

Third Avenue Bridge

Third Avenue Bridge, January 20, 2010
Keith Nelson on a 26", Michael Richter on a 20", Daryll John on a 20", Rob Hickman on a 26"

From Wikipedia:
The Third Avenue Bridge carries southbound road traffic on Third Avenue over the Harlem River, connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx in New York City. It once carried southbound New York State Route 1A.
The Third Avenue Bridge carries traffic south from Third Avenue, East 135th Street, Bruckner Boulevard, and Lincoln Avenue in the Bronx, to East 128th Street, East 129th Street, Lexington Avenue, and the Harlem River Drive in Manhattan, traveling over the Metro-North Railroad Oak Point Link, the Harlem River, and Harlem River Drive.
As part of a major reconstruction project, a new swing span was floated into place on October 29, 2004 and two lanes of Manhattan-bound traffic opened on December 6, 2004. Additional work covered redesign of the approach ramps to the bridge on the Bronx side and off the bridge in Manhattan. Discovery Channel made a television show about the installation.
As reconstructed, the Third Avenue Bridge carries five lanes of Manhattan-bound traffic from the Bronx, which split to three ramps in Manhattan: to East 128 Street and Second Avenue; to Lexington Avenue and East 129 Street;and to the southbound Harlem River Drive/FDR Drive.
For 2005, the New York City Department of Transportation, which operates and maintains the bridge, reported annual average daily traffic volume in both directions of 50,152; having reached a peak AADT of 73,121 in 2000.

Willis Avenue Bridge

Willis Avenue Bridge, January 20, 2010
Rob Hickman on a 26", Michael Richter on a 20", Daryll John on a 20", Keith Nelson on a 26"

On our first ride of of 2010 we added five bridges to bring our total to 22 New York City bridges crossed by unicycle. We focused on the lower Harlem River bridges, starting in Manhattan and weaving our way back and forth between Manhattan and the Bronx. We covered about 6 miles, including a lap around Yankee stadium and some fancy pedaling in a unicycle park.

From New York City Department of Transportation:
The main span of the Willis Avenue Bridge carries four 3.1 meter lanes of one-way traffic over the Harlem River. The bridge extends from First Avenue and East 124th Street in Manhattan to Willis Avenue and East 134th Street in the Bronx. Oriented north-south, this bridge is a northbound route and acts as a couplet with the Third Avenue Bridge, which carries southbound traffic. The Willis Avenue Bridge is located about 550 meters southeast of Third Avenue Bridge. It is a swing span bridge with a single flanking through truss main span. The bridge crosses the Harlem River Drive, a concrete plant, the Harlem River, the Metro-North Railroad Oak Point Link, the Harlem River Rail Yard, and Bruckner Boulevard. The bridge is easily reached from the local Manhattan street network, via First Avenue and East 125th Street, as well as from the FDR Drive. The curb-to-curb width of the swing span is about 12.8m, and is flanked by two 2.74m sidewalks. The northern sidewalk runs from the First Avenue approach to East 135th Street in the Bronx, where the bridge meets existing grade. The two Willis Avenue approach lanes measure 3.7m and the three Bruckner Boulevard approach lanes are 3.6m wide.

By the turn of the 20th century, intensified manufacturing development in the southern Bronx had rendered the Third Avenue Bridge inadequate for traffic demand. In 1894 the State Legislature authorized a new bridge to be built in the same location where a ferry ran in the 17th century. After a delay due to a right-of-way conflict with the New Haven Railroad, the bridge opened on August 22, 1901, at a cost of $2,444,511. Significant work to strengthen the structure was performed in 1916, when the Union Railway Company routed a trolley line across the bridge.

The Willis Avenue Bridge exhibits the effects of age, weather and the continual, daily usage by motor vehicles. The Department of Transportation is replacing the bridge, including the FDR Drive approach ramp and the ramp onto Bruckner Boulevard. NYCDOT will also reconstruct Willis Avenue over the Major Deegan Expressway for the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT).

NYCDOT has planned the new bridge to be constructed adjacent to and just south of the existing bridge. Thus, traffic, including the BX-15 bus, can continue to use the current bridge until the new bridge opens, resulting in limited impact to motorists and nearby communities. Throughout the project, little impact to marine traffic will be experienced. The new swing span is being fabricated and assembled off site, and will be floated into place once the foundations, center pier and rest piers are ready to receive it. Project completion is scheduled for the end of 2012.

The new Willis Avenue Bridge will be built to current engineering design standards and feature a direct connection from the FDR to the northbound Major Deegan Expressway in the Bronx. It will have wider lanes and will feature shoulders and a combined pedestrian/bicycle pathway along its north side. A symbolic portion of the original Willis Avenue Bridge will be retained as a monument in Harlem River Park.

Stage 1 of the project is currently underway. The team, consisting of DOT's Division of Bridges, Hardesty & Hanover LLP, Kiewit Constructors Inc-Weeks Marine Inc-Joint Venture and the Willis Avenue Bridge Company, are preparing the site, marshalling supplies and equipment and making roadway repairs. The next, longest phase of the work will build portions of the new off-ramp in the Bronx and lay foundations for the new bridge on land and in the water. The new swing span will be floated in in mid-2011, and traffic should be using it by that fall.

On Thursday, December 11, 2008, the current Manhattan pedestrian sidewalk entry ramp walkway onto the Bridge at the corner of First Avenue and East 123rd Street was closed. A new temporary pedestrian staircase was opened along the new Temporary Loop Ramp walkway to bring Bronx-bound pedestrians onto the Willis Avenue Bridge. This stairway can be accessed at First Avenue and East 127th Street. As the sidewalk at East 127th Street remains closed, pedestrians must proceed north along First Avenue from either East 125th Street or East 126th Street to the new stair. Disabled persons who are unable to climb or descend stairs are encouraged to use the Third Avenue Bridge sidewalks. The new Willis Avenue Bridge will be fully accessible to the disabled.

Beginning on January 20, 2009, the Department of Transportation will begin to shift Bronx-bound traffic lanes onto the north side of the Willis Avenue Bridge. Once the new lane configuration is in place, three traffic lanes will continue in service as the left lane has been constructed in place of the north sidewalk in the vicinity of the bridge over the Major Deegan Expressway.

Upon exiting the bridge, motorists in the left lane may only proceed north onto the Major Deegan Expressway. A temporary concrete barrier will channel vehicles in the left lane onto the Major Deegan Expressway. The right and center lanes will continue to carry traffic onto Willis Avenue eastbound. These changes are necessary to facilitate construction activities in the Bronx onto and over the Major Deegan Expressway. This traffic pattern will continue for approximately one year.

The project is a major component of DOT's long range Harlem River Bridges program, which has so far reconstructed or replaced the Macombs Dam, Third Avenue, Madison Avenue, 145th Street and University Heights Bridges.