Maloney issues report: Kosciuszko Bridge is bad and getting worse, but help is on the way

May 31, 2013
Press Release

Brooklyn, NY – A new report by Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) highlights new data on the bridge’s increasingly decaying conditions. She studied state conditions data, the number of flags the inspectors issued and the number of accidents and traffic delays, and in each case, Kosciuszko Bridge ranked at the bottom of the list.  That’s why it’s so important to move forward with the New York State Department of Transportation’s $800 million Kosciuszko Bridge Project, which includes $670 million, or roughly 85% of the total, in federal funding.  Maloney’s report shows that the project will create thousands of new jobs, including 1,000-1,200 full time construction jobs.  
 “Repairing our city’s infrastructure with $670 million in federal funds for the Kosciuszko Bridge is a win-win-win for commuters, construction workers and the overall economy.  Commuters want safety and convenience.  No one wants to see what happened in Washington State last week happen in New York,” said Maloney, who has long advocated for the project.

Maloney’s report notes that the Bridge’s need for repair has grown more severe in recent years. According to the report, The Kosciuszko Bridge now has a combined 49 flags from NYS DOT. That’s 21 more flags than the 28 it received in 2007, suggesting that the condition of the bridge is continuing to deteriorate.  Flags are issued by inspectors when repairs are needed or conditions may affect the long-term durability of the bridge.

Maloney analyzed the most recent state conditions data, which reveals that the Kosciuszko is among the top ten lowest-rated state-owned bridges in the city.  She also analyzed traffic data which shows that among the ten worst bridges, the Kosciuszko is the most heavily-used. Traffic and accident data make it among the slowest and most accident prone stretches of highway.

Elected Officials, Industry and community leaders, and frustrated commuters have all lauded the planned replacement of the Kosciuszko.

“The planned full replacement of the 70-year-old Kosciuszko Bridge is one of the most important public projects in the region—and one that I definitely ‘support.’ It will ease traffic at a notorious bottleneck on the BQE and improve the delivery of goods and services by allowing for more cars, trucks, and even new pedestrians and cyclists to cross. This collaborative project between the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration and State Department of Transportation will create thousands of much-needed jobs—and with funding coming from both the state and federal levels, it proves that our government truly ‘spans’ from Albany to D.C. Bravo to Congresswoman Maloney, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor Cuomo, Assembly members Joseph Lentol and Cathy Nolan, and State Senators Martin Dilan and Michael Gianaris,” said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz (D).

“As Congresswoman Maloney’s report indicates, the Kosciuszko Bridge is a vital part of our transportation infrastructure that has been allowed to deteriorate for far too long. Fortunately, thanks in large part to the efforts of Congresswoman Maloney, a new and improved Kosciuszko Bridge will soon be erected in a construction project that will boost economic activity and lead to a faster, safer and more enjoyable driving experience for the 160,000 motorists who use the bridge each day,” said Queens Borough President Helen Marshall (D).

“The replacement of the Kosciuszko Bridge will have a lasting impact in Brooklyn. Aside from the need to replace the ailing 74 year old bridge, the effect this project will have on traffic mitigation and job creation in the area will be far-reaching. Investments like these are crucial to our state and city infrastructure, but the Kosciusko replacement is unique in that through construction to completion, it will contribute greatly to our local communities by way of reduced accidents, easier commutes, new open-space opportunities and quality, good paying jobs,” said State Senate Transportation Committee ranking member Martin Malavé Dilan (D-Brooklyn).

“The New Kosciuszko Bridge will be a welcome relief to the more than 160,000 New Yorkers who currently commute across a deteriorating bridge, the distinguishing features of which are terrible traffic and an alarmingly high rate of accidents. This much-needed infrastructure upgrade will create thousands of jobs and make traveling between the growing communities of Queens and Brooklyn faster and safer. I thank Congresswoman Maloney for securing funding for this investment in the future of western Queens and downtown Brooklyn," said State Senator Michael Gianaris (D-Queens).

"The Kosciuszko Bridge is a lifeline for Brooklyn and Queens alike. But it's also a choke point that causes inefficiency and frustration for New Yorkers every single day," said Senator Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn, Manhattan). "Just as we recently did on the Brooklyn Bridge access ramps, an updated Kosciuszko will mean a safer, smoother, and faster ride for New Yorkers -- and will be a win-win for our community, our economy, and our entire city. Thank you to Congresswoman Maloney for her leadership, and all of our colleagues who are working toward better, safer roads."

“The construction of the new Kosciuszko Bridge is an expensive, but very necessary undertaking because of the ongoing traffic problem that results from its archaic state. I want to thank Congresswoman Maloney’s hard work and diligence in obtaining this federal funding that would have otherwise had to be provided by the state. Her hard work will now enable this state funding to be spent in other areas such as education to improve our community," said Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D-Brooklyn).

“Construction of the Kosciuszko Bridge will go a long ways towards putting New Yorkers back to work. Not only will it directly create tens of thousands of jobs, but it will also spur additional positive economic impact in Greenpoint and throughout the region. I want to thank Congresswoman Maloney for being a leader on prioritizing economic growth in New York City,” said Council Member Steve Levin (D-Brooklyn).

 “We applaud Congresswoman Maloney’s tireless support of New York’s infrastructure, as well as Governor Cuomo for accelerating the State’s participation in finally getting the Kosciusko Bridge project moving. Replacing this bridge, one of the lowest rated in the City, will provide hundreds of direct jobs and facilitate many, many thousands more.  But today’s message is also a clarion call that we must find additional resources in Washington and Albany to make sure other necessary investments in our aging infrastructure are not deferred.  Our economic future literally rides on it,” said Denise Richardson, Managing Director of General Contractors Association.

“Brooklyn isn’t just about the Brooklyn Bridge. There is a real need to upgrade the borough’s infrastructure and the Kosciuszko Bridge is a great example of the need for an upgrade. Linking Greenpoint to Queens, a new Kosciuszko Bridge is vital for Brooklyn’s economic growth and would create thousands of new jobs in the process. A new bridge would also link several of New York City’s fastest-growing communities and relieve traffic back-ups that can be felt all the way in Sunset Park and Astoria. I would like to thank Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney for her leadership on this issue and to the entire New York City Congressional delegation for helping to secure millions of dollars in federal aid so that a new bridge can finally be built,” said Carlo A. Scissura, President and CEO of Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.

"The Kosciuszko Bridge is a repeat member of AAA New York's worst bridges list. It is both functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. But, it serves as a vital link in the road transportation network of New York City, facilitating the movement of goods and people to, and through the City. A new bridge is critical to the continued prosperity of New York," said Robert Sinclair of AAA New York.

Completed in 1939, the Kosciuszko Bridge (the Bridge) carries a 1.1-mile segment of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE, Interstate 278) from Morgan Avenue in the borough of Brooklyn over Newtown Creek (which forms the border between Brooklyn and Queens) to the Long Island Expressway (LIE, Interstate 495) interchange in the borough of Queens.

Approximately 160,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day.

The  Kosciuszko Bridge project will be constructed in two phases.  The first phase, which is expected to commence this fall, consists of building two new parallel bridges on the eastbound side of the existing bridge. The existing bridge would then be demolished and a new bridge structure would be built in its place. When completed, the new bridges will carry five lanes of eastbound traffic, four lanes of westbound traffic and a pedestrian walkway/bikepath.   Improvements will include additional lanes for merging which will help ease congestion at peak travel times.  The new bridge will be approximately 35 feet lower than existing bridge and it will have standard lane widths and shoulders.

Key Findings of the Report:

(A full copy can be viewed here as a PDF)

•    Kosciuszko Bridge ranks 8th worst of state-owned bridges in New York City, according to NYSDOT inspection reports, and among the low rated bridges, it has the highest amount of traffic.
•    Following its most recent inspection on October 15, 2012, Kosciuszko Bridge had 49 flags – 6 red and 43 yellow. “Red” flags are issued for deficiencies involving critical structural components that require prompt evaluation and corrective measures to resolve the flag condition. “Yellow” flags identify less critical conditions that are likely to affect the long-term durability of a bridge and may progress to a more serious condition if left unattended for extended periods.  That’s up from 28 flags in 2008.
•    The state requires all 17,000 highway bridges to be inspected at least every two years.  Kosciuszko Bridge was most recently inspected October 15, 2012 and was given a state conditions rating of 3.53.  In 2009, it had a state conditions rating of 3.71. Under the New York State rating system, any bridge with a rating less than 5 is considered deficient.
•    Due to steep gradients and high levels of traffic, the Bridge has accident rates between five and 30 times the statewide average.
•    Bad road conditions at Kosciuszko Bridge result in an estimated 705 hours of unnecessary traffic delay each year during the morning commute and 816 hours each year during the evening commute. By widening and improving the bridge and its access ramps, traffic will move more smoothly, resulting in reduced commuting times and lower accident rates.
•    Historically there has been an accident on the bridge at least once every two weeks.  This year, to date, there’s a 33% increase, meaning that we’re closer to 1 accident a week this year.   Note: this data relates to the bridge itself and does not take into account accidents at the approach or exit ramps.
Maloney’s report also shows that the Kosciuszko Bridge Project will have substantial economic and local benefits:
•    The project will create 1,000-1,200 direct construction jobs.
•    The project will create more than 14,000 jobs overall when full time, part time and indirect impacts are included.
•    The project will reduce commuting times in New York City, which has the nation’s longest commuting times.
•    The project will add 3.7 acres of parkland in a community that has among the least amount of park land and open space in the city.