New York is a port town, the boroughs separated and cut up by rivers, creeks, canals, straits, and other waterways. That means we're also a city of bridges (and tunnels, and ferries); 2.7 million vehicles crossed a bridge in New York City every day in 2010, according to
Department of Transportation data, and there are 19 bridges with at least one ramp in Brooklyn that accommodate several hundreds of thousands of vehicles every day. Which are the busiest? Not necessarily the most iconic ones—that is, the ones you might expect.
1. The Verrazano Bridge
The span took 204,181 vehicles a day in 2010 between Staten Island and Bay Ridge. Construction on this Robert Moses project began in 1959 and was finished in 1964—memorably chronicled by Gay Talese in The Bridge
—displacing many Bay Ridge families but also creating easy automobile access to Staten Island, opening the borough up to development (and to Brooklyn residents who had grown unhappy with urban life by the 70s). Fort Lafayette, part of New York's harbor-defense system (with Fort Hamilton, Fort Wadsworth and Fort Tilden), was destroyed and replaced with the bridge's easternmost pillar. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world until the 80s, having surpassed the Golden Gate Bridge in length. It was named after the Italian explorer following intense lobbying efforts by the Italian Historical Society of America, which met not-inconsiderable resistance. Recently, the bridge has become a popular spot
for suicides; signs have been installed as you drive toward Staten Island that read, "Life is Worth Living."
2. Kosciuszko Bridge
This span, connecting Greenpoint to Maspeth across the Newtown Creek, accommodated 190,753 vehicles a day in 2010; it's one of four bridges that crosses the waterway, along with the Pulaski Bridge
, the Grand Street Bridge, and the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, each of which carry far fewer vehicles (because they're not on the BQE)—between almost 13,000 and almost 37,000. Like Pulaski, Kosciuszko was named after a Polish-American patriot, a nod to Greenpoint's large Polish population. It opened in 1939, and is reportedly in serious disrepair, so much so that construction on a new bridge was moved up
almost 18 months and should begin in the fall.
3. Mill Basin Bridge
The only drawbridge along the Belt Parkway, this south coast span accommodated 140,800 vehicles a day in 2010. Yahoo named it one of America's most dangerous bridges
this month, giving it a three percent sufficiency rating. The bridge will be replaced
by a higher bridge, 60 feet above the water, which will obviate the need for it to open up. Construction has just begun and is projected to be completed by 2017.
4. Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn's—and the city's, and maybe the world's—most iconic bridge took 123,640 vehicles a day between Brooklyn and Manhattan in 2010, just 60 percent of the load handled by the Verrazano Bridge. That's probably because it's just one of three bridges that cross the East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan, and there's also the Battery Tunnel, which took another more than 50,000 vehicles a day. Plus, it's the only bridge on this list so far that also accommodates pedestrians and bicyclists, 4,000 of the former and more than 3,000 of the latter every day.
5. Williamsburg Bridge
Or is it number one? 111,189 vehicles used this bridge to cross between Williamsburg and the Lower East Side in 2010; but it also accommodates
about 600 cyclists, 500 pedestrians, and 92,000 passengers on the J, M and Z trains—which, all totaled, brings its total usage numbers above the Verrazano's by about 100. It opened in 1903 and was for a time the longest suspension bridge in the world.
Least Traveled: the Carroll Street Bridge
One of several small bridges that span the Gowanus Canal, this bridge on—you guessed it!—Carroll Street was crossed by fewer than 1,000 vehicles a day in 2010. Even though we think it's the prettiest of the canal-crossing bridges
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