A prefabricated, 350-foot-long bridge was being installed Monday to replace a 109-year-old span across the Harlem River.
The 2,400-ton Willis Avenue Bridge will connect Upper Manhattan and the South Bronx and replace the existing swing bridge.
"I think it's very exciting to see this new bridge floated into place. You rarely see a bridge just spring up and be available immediately. It's almost like instant bridge,'' city Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told NY1, standing near the old bridge prior to a ceremony marking the installation.
"It may not be as iconic as the Brooklyn Bridge but it's a workhorse,'' that carries 70,000 vehicles a day, she added.
The new bridge was built for the transportation department at a privately owned port in Coeymans, near Albany. Last month, a marine transportation crew loaded the finished span onto barges that were welded together for the 130-mile trip down the Hudson River to a dock in Bayonne, N.J. Two weeks later, the span was hauled from Bayonne 15 miles north through the East River to its final destination, where it was tied up to the shoreline near the existing bridge.
The last leg of the journey was via the East River because the load's height, 82 feet from the barges' decks to the bridge's top crossbeam, was too tall for the low bridges over the narrow Harlem River.
"We have replaced or repaired virtually every single bridge in New York,'' Mayor Michael Bloomberg told WCBS Radio prior to the ceremony. "New York City has close to 800 bridges, and the only one that is substandard now ... is one ramp onto the Brooklyn Bridge,'' which also was being worked on.
"So when everybody in the country is complaining about infrastructure, that's not true in New York,'' he added. "We've spent over $5 billion replacing or repairing every single bridge in New York City.''