Governor Cuomo inaugurated the new Kosciuszko Bridge in style today, driving across it in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s old Packard while Polish folk dancers looked on. The ribbon cutting marked the opening of the bridge’s Queens-bound side, a $555 million effort that will be followed by the addition of a Brooklyn-bound span.
The original Kosciuszko, which hovers above Newtown Creek to connect Greenpoint and Maspeth, opened in 1939, during Roosevelt’s time. But it soon became “a sore spot” for Greenpoint, according to State Assembly Member Joseph Lentol. “It was quickly overwhelmed by cars and for decades it has been a traffic trap,” Lentol told a crowd gathered on the new bridge, the first three lanes of which will open to the public tonight at 11:30pm.
Once the Brooklyn-bound side is added to the new Kosciuszko, named after Polish-born Revolutionary War hero Tadeusz Kościuszko, it will be “a bridge that Greenpoint residents can be proud of,” Lentol assured.
Promising that the completed bridge would reduce traffic delays by 65 percent, Governor Cuomo told a personal story to illustrate just how cruddy the current one is: “The first time I heard my father use expletives was on this bridge,” the Queens native said.
Lentol praised Cuomo as a politician who “builds bridges, not walls”– a subtweet if ever there was one. But Cuomo went on to hype the new Kosciuszko in a distinctly Trumpian way: “We didn’t just build a bridge– we built a beautiful bridge,” he said. “This is the first cable-stay bridge built in New York. Towers of 180 feet, almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty.”
To tout the results of its largest-ever contract, the Department of Transportation created this time-lapse video showing the bridge’s construction, which started about two years ago.
The new Kosciuszko will be illuminated with LED lighting tonight, a move that will eventually be replicated on all of the city’s bridges in a synchronized fashion. The result, Cuomo said, would be an “international tourist attraction.”
The old Kusciuszko is expected to be demolished later this year. A musician’s petition to have the explosions accompanied to Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” has garnered just 240 signatures.