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Holy (Robert) Moses: Proposed suspension bridge between Jersey and Queens would plow across midtown

Written by
Howard Halle

Here’s a bad idea with good intentions: In a move worthy of New York’s former building czar, Robert Moses, Scott R. Spencer, Senior Transit Consultant for Philadelphia firm Chance Management Advisors, Inc.,is proposing a ginormous pair of suspension bridges to carry pedestrian, vehicular and rail traffic from New Jersey all the way over to Queens. The Empire State Gateway bridge project, as it’s called, would feature six 1000-foot towers carrying twin spans across the Hudson and East Rivers; that, of course, would also entail going over a big chunk of Manhattan.

In fact, the two bridges would run parallel over 39th Street (which would handle westbound traffic) and 38th Street (which would handle eastbound traffic). Each bridge would support three levels, with bike lanes and walkways on the upper level, commercial trucks, buses and a streetcar line in the middle and trains on the lower level. Meanwhile, street traffic in Manhattan would scoot along between the legs of the towers.

There is undoubtedly a desperate need for improved transit across the Hudson River. Indeed, were it not for the rejection of the planned ARC (Access to the Region's Core) tunnel by New Jersey Governor and current Trump factotum Chris Christie, pipe dreams like Spencer’s probably wouldn’t see the light of day. Spencer is actually proffering his bridge as an alternative to another proposed tunnel that arose from the ashes of Christie’s cancellation: He claims his bridge would cost $20 billion—the same as the proposed tunnel. But whereas the tunnel is expected to take more than 20 years (!) to build, Spencer says his bridge would only take 60 months to complete.

That may be true, but in the era since Jane Jacobs helped to stop Moses’s Lower East Side Expressway, notions like the Empire State Gateway bridge are pretty much dead on arrival. After all why would Manhattanites facilitate easy travel between two of their least favorite places?

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