Completed in 1901, this is a very old surviving highway swing bridge with highly unusual design and appearance. The bridge features riveted connections, making the bridge also an early surviving example of a highway truss bridge with riveted connections, which is particularly unusual on a swing bridge where the unusual distribution of forces often kept pin connections in use where riveted connections might otherwise have been used. The arrangement of the trusses of this bridge is most unusual, with a top chord that has a decreasing slope as it moves away from the center of the truss, similar to what would be found on the towers of a cantilever or continuous truss bridge. That design is not normally found on a swing span. The other unusual detail is that the truss of the swing span actually turns into a through plate girder at the ends of the swing span. In this sense, the swing span is both a truss and a plate girder! The approach spans are through plate girders whose size matches the girders at the ends of the swing span. The bridge has portal bracing at the center of the swing span, which feature decorated knee braces. There are also four ornamental finials on top of the swing span at the center.
There apparently was some structural problems that developed with the stone piers for the fixed spans of this bridge. As a result, new bents were created that are positioned outside of the old stone piers, with steel beams connecting the piles and providing the bridge a new place to rest on. Original ornamental railings remain on this bridge, but they are hard to see and appreciate because hideous looking cyclone fencing was added to the bridge. This fencing has a severely detrimental affect on the beauty of this bridge.
The bridge superstructure has a very low rating in the National Bridge Inventory, but the field visit to this bridge did not reveal any widespread deterioration of the trusses. It is possible that the low rating is from one isolated problem on the bridge that could be repaired and would improve the overall rating for the bridge. However, rather than rehabilitate this rare and historically significant bridge, it is slated for demolition and replacement. This appears to be a shortsighted decision that will deprive City Island of its landmark historic bridge and will waste money. Again, the superstructure does not look like something that is beyond repair. And the pier problem appears to have been solved by the addition of the new bents. However, the city is bent on erecting a massive cable stayed bridge that will tower over City Island. Many residents of City Island are outraged that this replacement bridge will be such a large bridge that will dominate the area's skyline. Sadly however, nobody seems interested in considering the rehabilitation of the existing bridge, which if successful would make everyone happy. The existing bridge is plenty wide enough. City Island is unlike the rest of New York City and the two lanes of the existing bridge seem sufficient. Also, there is a dedicated center lane on the bridge just for emergency vehicles. This also provides a ton of wiggle room if two trucks or other wide loads encounter each other on the bridge.
This bridge once had an unusual monorail line on it but only from 1910 to 1914. The short lived attempt to provide rail service did not last because the monorail did not work well and was unreliable. On its first trip, the train partially tipped over! Afterwards it was still subject to cancelation due to things like wind. It was not popular as a result and didn't last long.
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CarCam: Westbound Crossing
Full Motion Video
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This historic bridge has been demolished. This map is shown for reference purposes only.
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