The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘DUKBO

spending hours

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It’s National Chocolate Truffle Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So; yesterday I showed you what the public opening ceremonials of the new Koscisuzcko Bridge looked like, and detailed a bunch of the stuff I saw. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been alluding to an experience I had which was under an NDA – or Non Disclosure Agreement – which I couldn’t talk about or show photos of. I’ve been given the official release on that now that the bridge is open, so here’s what I got to see on April 17th of 2017, which is the day that the Stakeholders Advisory Committee of the Koscisuzcko Bridge replacement project met up with some elected officials in Maspeth and the NYS DOT gave us an opportunity to walk upon and visit the new bridge.

Hey, I’ve always dreamt of standing in the middle of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, haven’t you?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We climbed a temporary staircase on the Queens side of the job site. That’s where the DOT folks are headquartered, and we – Stakeholders Advisory Committee and Elected officials – donned orange safety vests and hard hats, followed our hosts through the site, and climbed the stairs between the two bridges.

Documenting this project has been a long standing project of mine – this 2012 post tells you everything you could want to know about Robert Moses, Fiorella LaGuardia, and the origins of the 1939 model Kosciuszko Bridge. Just before construction started, I swept through both the Brooklyn and Queens sides of Newtown Creek in the area I call “DUKBO” – Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp. Here’s a 2014 post, and another, showing what things used to look like on the Brooklyn side, and one dating back to 2010, and from 2012 discussing the Queens side – this. Construction started, and this 2014 post offers a look at things. There’s shots from the water of Newtown Creek, in this June 2015 post, and in this September 2015 post, which shows the bridge support towers rising. Additionally, this post from March of 2016 detailed the action on the Queens side. Most recently, here’s one from May of 2016, and one from June of the same year. Here’s one from August of 2016the December 2016 one, and finally . Here’s another from March of 2017 which discusses the demolition of the 1939 bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Up top, there were still people working, and from the appearance of the bridge – putting the finishing touches to the actual roadway, and adding a bit of spit and polish on the span to get it ready for its opening day on the 27th.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Borough President of Brooklyn Eric Adams and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney were along for the walk. (The Congresswoman did, in fact, have the hard hat on, but quickly took it off for this shot.)

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fact of the image embargo weighed heavily on me, cannot tell you much I wanted to shout from the rooftops that I had gotten to visit the bridge and walk a part of its length, but you “gotta do what you gotta do.” As mentioned, there was a bit of road top conditioning going on, mainly on the Brooklyn side, and we couldn’t approach that zone for safety reasons.

The hard hat guys are big on safety.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The view from the 1939 model Koscisuzcko Bridge has always been breathtaking, but was hidden by stout steel trusses and other structural elements. The second half of the project, due in 2020, will have a pedestrian and bicycle lane on the extreme western side which I anticipate as being a primal spot for photographers.

Imagine the sight of a thunderstorm, building over Manhattan, with the incredible Newtown Creek forming the foreground from this vantage point… the mind boggles.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As opined above, there was still a bit of work going on at the Brooklyn side of the span. The off ramp at Meeker Avenue is still being finalized (last I heard) as of this writing, but that situation very well might have been resolved by now.

I can say that the morning after the bridge opened on April 27, there was still a lane of traffic passing over the old bridge, no doubt to service traffic to the LIE and or Meeker Avenue (that’s a guess though).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We were allowed to wander around a bit, within a certain area, and soon my colleague from Newtown Creek Alliance Will Elkins and I were pointing cameras at the creek and creeklands in every possible direction. For me, it was a somewhat unique opportunity to actually compose shots and think about what I was shooting from up on the Koscisuzcko Bridge for once, rather than the “spray and pray” methodology of shooting which I normally do when passing over it in an automobile.

“Spray and Pray” is when you pre focus your lens, stick the camera out the window, and then hold down the shutter button while traveling at 30 mph, or in the case of the 1939 Kos – 5-12 mph.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thankfully, the image embargo and NDA is now “kaput,” so I can tell you that I got to visit and walk on the Koscisuzcko Bridge prior to its opening. Borough President Adams was apparently not under an NDA or image embargo, and shared the following picture with his legions of admirers on Twitter the day of. I hope his office doesn’t mind me reposting it here, but by gum I’m actually in the shot for once!


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 2, 2017 at 11:00 am

several persons

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It’s National Chocolate Parfait Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m always excited when people come to Newtown Creek to spend some time with me, but for some reason it always ends in a cloak of darkness punctuated only by the flashing of red and blue lights and the presence of law enforcement. Last Thursday, the 27th of April, was no exception to this tradition. That was the day that Governor Andrew Cuomo returned to Newtown Creek to celebrate the opening of the triumphant new Kosciuszcko Bridge.

Luckily for me, and you, and the historic record – a humble narrator was on the scene.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A habit, one arrived earlier than the appointed time for the event. I’m on the Stakeholders Advisory Committee, but somehow made it onto the first shuttle bus to the event with the press corps. That gave me a few minutes to wander about and get the lighting conditions figured out, and more than one or two shots of Newtown Creek from the bridge were acquired, since I was just waiting for the event to start.

Documenting this project has been a long standing project of mine – this 2012 post tells you everything you could want to know about Robert Moses, Fiorella LaGuardia, and the origins of the 1939 model Kosciuszko Bridge. Just before construction started, I swept through both the Brooklyn and Queens sides of Newtown Creek in the area I call “DUKBO” – Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp. Here’s a 2014 post, and another, showing what things used to look like on the Brooklyn side, and one dating back to 2010, and from 2012 discussing the Queens side – this. Construction started, and this 2014 post offers a look at things. There’s shots from the water of Newtown Creek, in this June 2015 post, and in this September 2015 post, which shows the bridge support towers rising. Additionally, this post from March of 2016 detailed the action on the Queens side. Most recently, here’s one from May of 2016, and one from June of the same year. Here’s one from August of 2016the December 2016 one, and finally . Here’s another from March of 2017 which discusses the demolition of the 1939 bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Suddenly, marching bands began to appear. This troupe danced their way over from Greenpoint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This troop marched in from the Queens side, which is in West Maspeth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One does love a parade.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A whole passel of people began to appear from both sides of the new bridge, including this contingent of elected officialdom and VIP’s from Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The security people and the folks from Albany got everyone into their places, and I crouched down with a bunch of other camera wielders as a 1932 Packard Limo which used to belong to Franklin Delano Roosevelt arrived on the scene.

Andrew Cuomo had returned to the Newtown Creek, in style.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The last time that I saw Mr. Cuomo hereabouts was back in November of 2010, when he (as Attorney General of NYS) announced the settlement of the ExxonMobil/Greenpoint Oil Spill lawsuit. As a note, that’s no dig, the Big Guy’s been busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Governor of New York State seemed quite pleased with his new bridge, a project which he had famously and personally shouldered into fruition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was a ribbon cutting.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Then the crowd formed ranks during the pledge of allegiance, and the speechifying began.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First up was Borough President Melinda Katz of Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Second was Assemblyman Joe Lentol of Greenpoint. Mr. Lentol was followed by a diplomatic official from the Polish Government whose name I did not catch. Thaddeus Koscisuzcko whom the bridge is named for was, of course, a Pole and he’s a national hero to that proud nation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seemed like every news crew in NYC was there, and there were camera drones zipping around as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Governor Cuomo seemed… rather… Presidential to me, if you know what I mean.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The plaques that adorned the old bridge for 78 years had been cleaned and polished up prior to the event, but this was the moment they were unveiled. The plaques are going to be installed on the new spans when all is said and done in 2020.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

2020, of course, is when the second half of the new Koscisuzcko Bridge is scheduled to be finished.

One was invited to attend the second ceremony of the day in Maspeth, wherein the Governor would unveil the new lighting project he’s enacting for all the bridges of New York Harbor. It was a dark and foggy night, but there was a variety of truly excellent food and drink that Mr. Cuomo had arranged for on hand. A party atmosphere penetrated the shroud of darkness cloaking the incredible Newtown Creek.

Note: For anyone from the Governors office or the Taste of NY people who might be reading this – that was probably the best brisket sandwich which I’ve ever quaffed. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Synchronized to music played on a couple of radio stations and over loud speakers at the event, the bridge was suddenly dancing with bright light.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The reaction of the crowd to this display seemed to please the Governor. My reaction, which was to try and get some decent shots of the thing, was badly reacted to by his security detail. “Get behind the white line” and “Now” was I told, and so did I comply. This encounter scared me, and fearing that one of my panics might be oncoming, one “retreat scuttled” back and away from the event and into the shadows of industrial Maspeth.

I really shouldn’t be amongst people. It always ends badly, with darkness, and law enforcement, and flashing lights.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One began to “quick scuttle” through the oily miasma and patchy fog of Blissville, keeping the tomb legions of Calvary Cemetery on my right, and all the while feeling the staring presence of those unknown eyes which watch from shuttered warehouse windows to the left. Off in the distance, the thing in the Sapphire Megalith of LIC watched through the mist.

It was nice to feel a slight return to normalcy, after such a long day in the presence of others.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

By the next day the Governor and the rest would all be back doing their own things in the places where they usually do them, but to a humble narrator on the 27th of April in 2017, the soliloquy of the Newtown Creek itself had just entered into a new chapter.

As a note, the next morning I was asked by NY Times reporter Emma G. Fitzsimmons to ride over the new bridge with her in a green Taxi, and she posted this article about our trip.


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

prime strength

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It’s National Zucchini Bread Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself spent a rainy Earth Day in industrial Greenpoint, and our first stop was at the brand new Green Roof at 520 Kingsland Avenue. Our second appointment was with the NYC DEP, who were offering tours of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant pictured above. As a note, this was an abbreviated version of the tour, which only included an audience with the newly hired and immensely cool Deputy Commisioner Pam Elardo and the second Superintendent of the plant, Zainool Ali. A brief lecture on sewer operations and the DEP’s mandate was followed by a visit to the walkway that hovers over the digester eggs. The old version of the tour included a few other areas of the plant such as the electrical rooms and screening facility.

As you’d imagine – I’ve been on this tour several times over the years as a member of the Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee, my role as Newtown Creek Alliance Historian, and just out of my own puerile interest.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The walkway above the digester eggs is encased in greenish blue glass, which always poses a bit of a challenge – photographically speaking. The glass tends to act as a neutral density filter and lends a color cast to the shots you can capture up there. Also, as mentioned, this isn’t my first rodeo up there – so I’ve developed certain countermeasures on both the capture and digital darkroom sides to deal with the glass issue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s nothing you can do about rain, however, so as my pal Bernie Ente used to advise – just use it to your advantage. One is quite enamored with the image above, which is one of the better atmospheric shots I’ve managed to capture so far this year. This is looking west, obviously, towards the shining city of Manhattan and over Greenpoint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking eastwards, towards Maspeth and the Kosciuszcko Bridge project. You’ll notice that there aren’t rain or glass distortions present in this shot, or the one below. That’s due to my having visited the walkway multiple times in the past and knowing where there are lapses in the wraparound glass big enough to shove a camera lens through.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s probably going to be the very last “birds eye” shot of the 1939 era Koscisuzcko Bridge seen above, doing the active duty it’s been engaged in for 78 years, that I am going to ever take. On Thursday the 27th, Governor Cuomo is going to officially open the new bridge and the NYS DOT is going to shortly thereafter reroute the BQE onto it. The demolition process of the 1939 bridge is meant to begin playing out over the summer and should be completed sometime this fall, whereupon the second half of the “K Bridge” project will start.


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

cultural tone

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It’s National Pigs in a Blanket day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last, Earth Day April 22nd, was a misty and rainy day in the Newtown Pentacle. Regardless, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself attended a couple of Newtown Creek oriented events and one had a chance to get busy with the camera. The shots in today’s post were captured at the Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages Green Roof project at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, a spot which you will have a few chances to visit with us (NCA) this spring and summer – notably on May 7th during our MAS Janeswalk event (details found at the bottom of this post).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The views from up on the green roof are pretty staggering. 520 Kingsland Avenue is right at the center of the “soup bowl” as I call it, which surrounds the incredible Newtown Creek. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with the topography related to the waterway. The Queens side, until you get to about two and half miles back from the East River in Maspeth is flat as a pancake – literally a flood plain which was aboriginally a series of marshes, swamps, and tidal meadows. The Brooklyn side in the same area is also fairly flat, but there’s a few undulating prominences. Bushwick, Eastern Maspeth, and Ridegwood form a literal ridge of steeper elevations around the creek. The terminal morraine of Long Island, or actual non glacially deposited rock, starts in Maspeth at Mount Olivette cemetery.

That’s Long Island City, of course, with the astounding amount of real estate industrial complex activity along Jackson Avenue and Northern Blvd. on full display as it rises behind the Long Island Expressway truss over the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

520 Kingsland also lets you peek into a series of industrial properties normally hidden by security fencelines and see what’s going on in them. Pictured above is part of the Metro Fuel truck fleet. Metro is a biofuel company founded by a buddy of mine – Paul Pullo – which was purchased a few years ago by the billionaire John Catsimatidis, of FreshDirect and Gristedes supermarket fame.

Metro is a biofuel company, meaning that they recycle all sorts of waste like fryer oil and cooking grease, as well as feeding soybean and agricultural oils into their mix to produce various grades of fuel oil.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another buddy of mine, Mike Allocco, runs a recycling processing plant on Kingsland Avenue, and 520 Kingsland Avenue’s rooftop let’s you check out his family owned and operated operation at work from a safe distance. Allocco Recycling has been a generous partner with NCA on another project we’ve got going down there – the Living Dock. My pal Will Elkins, NCA’s project manager, has been working his fingers to the bone on “The North Henry Street Project” which includes the Floating Dock and plans for shoreline restoration work along a minor tributary of Newtown Creek called “unnamed canal.”

For more on Will Elkins’ efforts on the Living Dock – click this link to visit NCA’s page on the subject.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Commanding, and less common, views of the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant are also available from 520 Kingsland Avenue. Those four cylinders in the center of the shot are actually gas jets which burn off excess methane generated by the sewer plant, making the City’s Department of Environmental Protection the single largest producer of greenhouse gases in Brooklyn. Dichotomous to their adversarial roles in the ongoing Newtown Creek Superfund situation, the DEP has entered into a partnership with the National Grid company to capture the methane instead of burning it off. The DEP calls this project “waste into energy” and it’s heraldic to the kinds of public/private partnerships which just might help ameliorate the devastating effect that climate change is going to bring to the maritime archipelago which NYC is embedded into.

The 21st century is going to see a lot of these kinds of partnerships, I believe.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happily, one no longer needs to sit upon the good news that Governor Andrew Cuomo will be coming to Newtown Creek on Thursday to inaugurate and open the new Koscisuzcko Bridge, as the NY Daily News has already spilled the beans and press releases are already floating around with the news.

via the Governor’s press office –

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the grand opening of the first span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge. The Kosciuszko Bridge, which will be the first new bridge constructed in New York City since the Verrazano Bridge in 1964, will be open to traffic in both directions on April 27, 2017. The Governor will mark the grand opening with a spectacular light show coordinated to music airing on multiple iHeartRadio stations. The light show is the first performance in “The New York Harbor of Lights” that will illuminate crossings with multi-color LED light shows that will be visible for miles. The shows will transform New York’s already awe-inspiring structures into international tourist attractions to drive additional tourism revenue. The premier of “The New York Harbor of Lights” will also include coordination with the lights of the Empire State Building.


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

ordinary courtship

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It’s National Chocolate Covered Cashews Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gaze in awe upon the magnificent spectacle of the incredible Newtown Creek, that lugubrious cataract of urban neglect which doth form the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens. Not saying how I got this shot, but perhaps in a great and atypical feat of athleticism a humble narrator leaped from one borough to the next. It’s possible.


Upcoming Tours and events

7 Line Centennial Ride, April 21st – TODAY.

With Access Queens and NYC Transit Museum, Free event, except for subway fare – details here.

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 21, 2017 at 11:00 am

hushed conversation

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It’s National Cheeseball Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lots of odds and ends today. A supposition which opines that I live on the most exciting corner in Astoria continues to play out, as evinced by a deployment of the ever reliable FDNY the other night. It seems that one of the neighbors discerned the olfactory evidence of combustion emerging from a storefront occupied by the local bagel shepherds, which was a report which the FDNY responded to with a fairly large deployment. The fellows on the big red trucks soon determined that this was a false alarm, and it all ended up being just another Astoria hullabaloo. 

My suspicions that I live on the most interesting corner in Astoria will soon bear a different kind of fruit, however, as the trickle of water which I reported to 311 as bubbling out of a manhole cover on the next block – about two weeks ago – has now grown into a small flowing stream. Never quiet – here in Astoria, Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hypothetically – due to having had to sign a non disclosure agreement with the State of New York today, one cannot tell you where I am this morning or what I am doing. I am precluded from sharing photographs or discussing my visit to some mysterious location where my camera has been brought to today until some indeterminate time in the future when the embargo on such collected material has been rescinded by NYS officials. There are no specific penalties described for violating this embargo (which is odd), nor was it originally offered with an “expiry” date, which is fairly standard for such situations (an open ended NDA contract for such matters isn’t strictly “kosher” legally, anyway, and there’s also that whole first amendment thing which NYS doesn’t get to suspend). Saying that, a humble narrator made a big stink about the imposition of an open ended image embargo with certain hypothetical people whose offices would be found in some theoretical minor City – which would be found around two hundred miles to the north of the de facto Capitol of New York State at the other end of the Hudson River – and eventually I will be able to describe in some excruciating detail where I went this morning and what I saw at some later date whenever they decide it’s no longer a state secret. 

The photo of the two Kosciuszcko Bridges seen above is merely a decorative addition to this post – filler, if you will – and does not in any way indicate where I am, or what I may be walking upon or over as you’re reading this. The shot was gathered a week ago in Greenpoint, on April 9th, for the legally minded and prosecutorially inclined amongst you. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of the bagel shop which drew the attentions of the FDNY to Astoria one recent night, while waiting for the bagel shepherds to construct a sandwich for me one recent afternoon, one was standing outside in the rain and glowering at passerby when I noticed these two pigeons working a flooded tree pit for bits of food and drinking from the puddles. Our normal flock of pigeons, who live in Astoria in fairly considerable numbers, have lately been harassed by a sudden explosion of super aggressive sparrows. This flock of avian bullies has been chasing the pigeons about, and driving them from their ledges. The Sparrows, on the other hand, have recently begun to be harassed by a bunch of Ravens. The multitudinous Sparrows will be loudly chirping when a single “caw” is sounded, which shuts them all up. Down below, the street cats watch, and wait. Luckily, after the bagel shepherds completed the construction of my sandwich, I was able to remove myself from this internecine urban warfare and return to the tranquil safety of HQ where my little dog Zuzu polices the behavior and habits of all the lower life forms. 

Gang warfare, of the feathered variety, affects us all. It’s best to have an elderly dog around to keep things straight.


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

mouldering bulk

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It’s National Canadian Bacon Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Blowing it to bits” is a bit of an exaggeration, as offered by NYC’s tabloid headline writers (and the Governor of New York State), referring to a recently offered plan by the NYS DOT regarding the controlled demolition of the Kosciuszko bridge. Really… this isn’t going to be like the end of the movie Diehard, if anything it’s going to be a bit more like the end of Fight Club.

Documenting this project has been a long standing project of mine – this 2012 post tells you everything you could want to know about Robert Moses, Fiorella LaGuardia, and the origins of the 1939 model Kosciuszko Bridge. Just before construction started, I swept through both the Brooklyn and Queens sides of Newtown Creek in the area I call “DUKBO” – Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp. Here’s a 2014 post, and another, showing what things used to look like on the Brooklyn side, and one dating back to 2010, and from 2012 discussing the Queens side – this. Construction started, and this 2014 post offers a look at things. There’s shots from the water of Newtown Creek, in this June 2015 post, and in this September 2015 post, which shows the bridge support towers rising. Additionally, this post from March of 2016 detailed the action on the Queens side. Most recently, here’s one from May of 2016, and one from June of the same year. Here’s one from August of 2016, and finally the December 2016 one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYS DOT held two meetings this week, one of which I attended, in which they described their plans. First – the central truss removal plan no longer involves the usage of maritime cranes. What their engineers described instead was the construction of four temporary towers which would support machinery which they described as “strand jacks,” which would lower the central truss down to couple of waiting flat top barges. Welding torches would be used to sever the truss’s links to the bridge superstructure, after the strand jacks are attached to support its weight. The truss will be lowered and secured to the barges, whereupon tugboats would guide it westward out of Newtown Creek, and across the harbor to New Jersey where its steel will be recycled.

They indicated this process would play out sometime around the end of April or the beginning of May. The DOT folks were quite vague about specific dates, saying that these were probable time frames but that they couldn’t commit to specifics at this point in time. This is problematic for me, personally, as I’m in the process of negotiating for boats to do Newtown Creek tours this summer, and the procedure described above includes the closure of the creek to all traffic for a couple of days. Worry, worry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are two steel towers on either side of the Newtown Creek, which the engineering people indicated would be removed using conventional means (torches and cranes). Beyond the two steel towers, there are 21 spans supported by concrete piers – 10 in Brooklyn and 11 in Queens – which support roadway sections that range between large 230 foot long and 800 ton units and smaller ones that are 120 feet long which weigh in at 2-300 tons. These sections are the ones that DOT and the contractor partnership working for them are proposing to use the explosives on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The explosives used, and it should be mentioned that the very conservative FDNY Explosives Unit was present and participating in the discussion, would be shaped charges. What that means is that these things are essentially copper bars with high explosive material attached. The charges are placed at critical structural points on the bridge sections, and when their detonation is triggered, the copper chops right through the steel like a knife through butter. The sections which the explosives will be attached to will be “wrapped in filter fabric and conveyor belting equipment,” as they told us. It’s all very complicated.

The detonation will introduce structural deficits into the bridge sections, which will cause them to collapse in a controlled manner, effectively dropping straight down with little or no flyaway debris. There will be dust on impact with the ground, of course, which is a bit of a concern but the engineers say they have techniques to control that too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vibration from the dropping sections – which again, weigh anywhere between 200 and 800 tons – is a concern, and the engineering folks described a series of dampening and avoidance technologies and techniques to handle that. These involved building engineered soil berms with internal steel structures, digging trenches, and so on. To be honest, I’m a bit concerned about what will amount to a seismic event, given the proximity of Calvary Cemetery and the somewhat ancient building industrial stock of West Maspeth and Eastern Greenpoint, but the FDNY guys seemed cool with it all.

As I said during the meeting – “If an FDNY Deputy Chief told me to go jump off the bridge, I’d probably listen to him or her,” but I have a more than normal level of respect for the FDNY’s opinions. One of the guys speaking at the meeting was a deputy chief, as a note.

As you may notice from the shot above, and the reason this whole demolition story is flying around, is that the DOT and their contractors are nearly done with constructing the eastern half of the new bridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 200,000 units a day of vehicle traffic carried by the Brooklyn Queens Expressway will soon be rerouted onto the new bridge, at which point the old bridge is irrelevant and in the way. A twin of the new bridge will then be erected on its footprints. As often mentioned in the past – this western side of the new span will include a pedestrian and bicycle path.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In West Maspeth, once called Berlinville, you’ll find the sections of the roadway sitting on truck trailers and awaiting insertion into the span. Based on what I’m seeing, they should be installed shortly, and my guess would be that sometime in March the new span over Newtown Creek will be complete.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One thing which I’m looking forward to in 2017 is a promised walk with the DOT over the new bridge shortly before traffic is rerouted. They’ve been a little vague as to when this will happen, but they have said repeatedly that it will occur. As a note, those are the tracks of the Lower Montauk branch of the LIRR, and a section of them known historically as “Deadman’s Curve.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Anywho, that’s your Kosciuszko Bridge replacement project update for the first quarter of 2017, see you on Monday at this – your Newtown Pentacle – with something completely different.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 3, 2017 at 11:00 am

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