Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Bridge Tolls

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Bridge

WillisAve_HRLS2.jpgPhoto of the Willis Avenue Bridge floating by barge under the Triborough's Harlem River span: MTA

The journey of the new Willis Avenue Bridge has been a sight to behold. Over the past few weeks, the gargantuan span that will replace the existing bridge linking Harlem and the South Bronx has floated down the Hudson from Coeymans, NY, up the East River and over to the Harlem River, between First Avenue and Willis Avenue. It was an awesome spectacle.

Today the new span settled into its final position, where crews will put on the finishing touches to connect it to approaches on each side of the Harlem River. The new Willis Avenue Bridge will be an upgrade in many ways (for starters, it's not 110 years old), but like its predecessor, it will be free to drive across, beckoning to toll-shopping motorists and incurring all sorts of costs in air pollution, lost time, noise and danger caused by unnecessary traffic.

The act of replacing the bridge is rather expensive too. To mark the arrival of the bridge at its destination, the city released some figures today showing the pricetag for the replacement -- $612 million -- as well as how much all the recent bridge work in the city has cost.

Since 2002, the city has spent more than $5 billion on bridge projects. It has cost a bundle to maintain the linchpins of NYC's ostensibly free road network, including:

    • $508 million on the Brooklyn Bridge;
    • $364 million on seven bridges along the Belt Parkway;
    • $277 million on the Williamsburg Bridge;
    • $168 million on the Queensboro Bridge; and
    • $150 million on the Manhattan Bridge.

These are important investments that need to be made. The question is why motorists should continue to get a free ride on all this expensive infrastructure.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Friday’s Headlines: Hochul’s Fantasy World Edition

The governor has gone off the deep end. Plus other news.

July 19, 2024

Speaker Adams: Council May Not Use its ‘Sammy’s Law’ Power to Lower Speed Limits

The Council may not lower the speed limit, even though it fought so hard to get that very right from the state legislature.

July 19, 2024

Parks Dept. Has Money But No Timeline to Finish Eastern Queens Greenway

There's tens of millions of dollars for the greenway, so when will parks build it?

July 19, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines: Paris is a Lot Cooler than NYC Edition

The City of Light has figured out how to reduce the heat island effect. Plus other news in today's daily digest.

July 18, 2024

Exclusive: Legal Team Announced for Suit Against Hochul’s Congestion Pricing ‘Pause’

Attorneys from three firms have inked a joint defense agreement to fight "the governor’s illegal decision to cancel congestion pricing," Comptroller Brad Lander said.

July 17, 2024
See all posts