Earlier this week, the MTA and DOT revealed their plans for ferry service during the L-train shutdown, with proposed routes connecting North Williamsburg to Stuyvesant Cove. However, a recently launched project is floating another unusual solution to the impending L-pocalypse: a pontoon bridge. L-ternative Bridge, created by New Yorker Parker Shinn, touts the pontoon bridge as a cheap, quick-to-assemble option that would alleviate some of the difficulties posed by the shutdown of the Canarsie Tube.
Shinn hopes that his design, created with the help of a naval architect and a civil engineer, will garner enough public support to attract the attention and backing of the MTA and other city officials, according to a release.
The project’s website states that the East River pontoon bridge “would be capable of supporting two lanes for bus traffic and two walking/bike paths.” In addition, they claim that construction would only take 6-8 months and could be “completely covered” by a toll of $1. The bridge would be made up of 37 deck barges, each 90 feet in length and held in place with 3,500 pound anchors to prevent the bridge from being swept away.
Pontoon bridges have been used for over a thousand years, and are still commonly used by militaries to cross large bodies of water quickly and efficiently, says the website.
Shinn, who works for a real estate investment company, launched a Kickstarter campaign this week to help fund the project. So far, it has $1,702 of the $50,000 needed. Backers will receive “toll tickets” matching their donation value; since the proposed toll is $1, a $50 donation will allow you to cross the bridge 50 times, and so on. Bigger donations will also get you tickets to the “Deconstruct” party, a gathering on the water which would conclude the bridge’s tenure on the East River and celebrate the re-opening of the Canarsie tube in 2020.
The Kickstarter page notes that city support is not guaranteed, nor is the honoring of the proposed donation rewards by the MTA.
L-ternative’s plan also includes an overpass to be built over FDR Drive that would allow buses and pedestrians to pass underneath to avoid traffic jams, and even includes a 240-foot drawbridge, which would allow ship traffic to pass through at scheduled intervals– just hopefully not during peak hours.
As for how all of this will actually help commuters traverse the East River? L-ternative Bridge proposes that a bus terminal be built on North 7th Street in Williamsburg, between Bedford and Driggs Avenue, ostensibly for commuters arriving at the Bedford Avenue L station. From there, buses would travel down North 8th Street through the East River State Park to the pontoon bridge. Once they reach Manhattan, buses would run along 14th Street to the West Side Highway before turning around, thus creating a 6.5 mile loop for commuters.
Planned travel alternatives for the L-train shutdown currently include the addition of select bus service on 14th Street, as well as new “protected” bike and bus lanes in the affected Brooklyn and Manhattan neighborhoods. In Brooklyn, the MTA will add additional service to J, M, and G trains, in addition to select bus lines.
Shinn’s project is probably one of the more unique proposed alternatives to the L-pocalypse. The shutdown is set to begin in April of 2019; there will be no L train service from Bedford Avenue to 8th Avenue during the following 15 months, but service will continue from Lorimer Street to Rockaway Parkway.