The visionaries are at it again. Back in October, we reported on a pedestrian bridge linking Jersey City with Manhattan, dubbed the Liberty Bridge project. Now another idea has surfaced that proposes a twin suspension bridge connecting New Jersey with Queens via Manhattan.
The project, called Empire Bridge, is the brainchild of Scott R. Spencer, a rail transportation consultant, and calls for two suspension bridges, each about the length of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. It’s presented as an alternative to the ARC Tunnel project that Gov. Christie so thoughtfully canceled in 2010.
The planned route runs alongside the Lincoln Tunnel, across Manhattan via 38th and 39th Streets and into Queens alongside the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.
With an eye to the future, the bridge plan includes three travel levels – two rail lines on the lower level, two bus lanes and a light rail on the second, and pedestrians and bicycles on the third level. Notably absent from the bridge is accommodation for private vehicles.
It’s a bit reminiscent of Robert Moses, the “master builder” behind most NYC’s highway network including the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, Staten Island Expressway and the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge. Moses also planned extensive highways throughout Manhattan such as the Lower Manhattan Expressway which would have run through Greenwich Village and Soho. It was vigorously opposed by local residents including his most vocal critic the now-well-respected visionary, Jane Jacobs.
As enticing as the Empire Bridge is, the project would no doubt ruin the streetscape of the neighborhoods it bisected. It’d be the cause of endless lawsuits as residents try to block it from coming through and ruining their property values and way of life. Further, seeing that the Port Authority can’t maintain the infrastructure they currently have, there’s little hope for this project.
What we really need are some more tunnels. Enough with the political nonsense. As a commenter ‘iluvnyc’ brought up on Curbed, in June, Switzerland is planning to open the Gotthard Base Tunnel which will become the world longest and deepest tunnel spanning 35.5 miles through the Alps. Sure it took 20 years to build and cost $10 billion, but the cost of building new infrastructure is never going to get cheaper.
Like the Liberty Bridge proposal, it’s great that architects, planners, and citizens are thinking outside of the box to solve today’s problems and the next generation’s nightmares. As ambitious as these projects may seem to us, imagine what the public thought when they proposed the first underground subway lines in Manhattan in 1894. At a time before computers, limited electricity, and unsophisticated mechanical power. I think we can manage a bridge or a few more tunnels.