The Empire State Gateway is a wild new proposal that calls for a 3.5-mile suspension bridge to be built from New Jersey, across Manhattan at 38th and 39th Streets, and into Queens. Designed by a traffic consultant from Delaware who thinks the elevated twin suspension bridge would be an efficient solution to some of the city’s transportation troubles, the concept could have a relatively short construction timeline, but would most likely be extremely expensive.
Scott R. Spencer is the man behind the proposal. He believes the suspension bridge is an easier, and faster, remedy to the NYC’s transportation woes than the current plan to repair its crumbling train tunnels. The city recently allocated $70 million for engineering work on a new Hudson River tunnel as part of the $20 billion Gateway Tunnel project aimed at rebuilding centuries-old tunnels that ferry Amtrak passenger trains under the Hudson.
Spencer’s suspension bridge could be built quickly, perhaps in as little as five years compared to the 20 or more years it will take to complete the tunnel projects. However, the audacious suggestion comes with a host of challenges. The cost, for starters, would be as much as the entire tunnel project, around $20 billion according to Spencer. A 3.5-mile suspension bridge would also put a damper on Midtown views, and the bureaucratic nightmare of permits and approvals would be staggering.
The ambitious twin suspension bridge would be supported by six 1,000-foot towers. The proposal calls for eastbound traffic to run along 38th Street while westbound traffic would follow 39th Street. Each side of the bridge would be constructed with three levels to carry different types of transportation, making room for rail traffic on the lowest tier, with motor vehicles on the middle level, and lanes for pedestrians and cyclists on the topmost tier. Spencer introduced his crazy plan last week at a meeting about the tunnel, and will present it to the Federal Railroad Administration next week.
Critics say it’s highly unlikely a bridge like this would ever be built in the city. Still, the proposal could be one of those insane, left-field ideas that helps move the conversation forward and inspires creativity to help find other solutions to one of the city’s toughest problems.
Images via Tevebaugh Associates Architects