Bridges – Must See Tourist Attractions in New York City
Bridges & Tunnels in NYC, New York, USA
Bronx Whitestone Bridge
The Bronx Whitestone Bridge, colloquially referred to as the “Whitestone Bridge”, is a suspension bridge that crosses the East River and connects the boroughs of Queens and The Bronx via Interstate 678. The bridge was designed by Othmar Ammann and opened to traffic with four lanes on April 29, 1939.
The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge opened on April 29, 1939. The bridge featured pedestrian walkways as well as four lanes of vehicular traffic, which carried 17,000 vehicles during the year 1940. Toll was 25 cents. The 2,300-foot center span was the fourth longest in the world at the opening.
Ammann’s plan to use I-beam girders proved to be a poor one after the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington. The Narrows Bridge employed an 8-foot deep girder system, much like the Whitestone Bridge. In 1943, the pedestrian walkways were removed and the four lanes of roadway traffic was widened to six in a project to install 14-foot high trusses on either side of the deck to weigh down the bridge in an effort to reduce oscillation. These trusses detracted the look of the once-streamlined looking span.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority planned to spend $286 million in bridge renovations which started in August 2001. These renovations, which are still in progress, include removing the cable stays installed in the 1940s, removing the 14-foot trusses (which proved to be too heavy for the bridge’s suspension cables which were not designed to hold such weight) and installing variable message signs. Replacing the deck of the bridge and assisting in lightening the deck by 6,000 pounds are projected to be done by 2008. The bridge remains in service during overhaul, but a reduced number of lanes lead to traffic backups and signs suggesting use of the Throgs Neck Bridge. Trucks over 40 tons are prohibited from using the span since 2005.
Originally built to connect the Hutchinson River Parkway in the Bronx to the Whitestone Parkway in Queens, it was redesignated Interstate 678 in the late 1950’s. The approaches to the bridge were soon after converted to Interstate Highway standards. The Whitestone Parkway became the Whitestone Expressway, and part of the Hutchinson was converted to an expressway. They now share the I-678 designation with the bridge itself.
The sidewalks that had been included when originally constructed were removed from the bridge to allow for wider vehicular lanes. After the removal of the sidewalks, bicyclists were able to use QBx1 buses of the Queens Surface Corporation, which could carry bicycles on the front-mounted bike racks. However, since the Metropolitan Transportation Authority absorbed the bus routes formerly operated by Queens Surface, the bike racks have been eliminated . Bicyclists are now forced to detour to the Triborough Bridge or possibly try hitchhiking across, which is illegal  and considered very dangerous in New York City.
From March 13, 2005, the crossing charge for a two-axle passenger vehicle is $4.50 charged in each direction, with a $.50 discount for E-ZPass users. The crossing charge for a motorcycle is $2.00 charged in each direction, with a $0.25 discount for E-ZPass users.
The Bronx Whitestone Bridge is owned by the New York City and operated by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, an affiliate agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Although the neighborhood of Whitestone is located in Queens, several businesses on the Bronx side of the bridge include “Whitestone” in their names, owing to the bridge’s often-shortened name.
Longest span : 701.04 meters (2,300 feet)
Total length : 1,149.10 meters (3,770 feet)
Vertical clearance : 14 feet 6 inches (4.4 m)
Opening date : April 29, 1939