Triborough Bridge

Triborough Bridge

bridge_name= Triborough Bridge

caption= Aerial view of the RFK Memorial Bridge (left) and the Hell Gate Bridge (railroad bridge, right). Queens is in the foreground, across from Wards Island. The RFK Bridge continues out of view along the length of the island and forks to reach both The Bronx and the island of Manhattan.
official_name= Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge
also_known_as= Triborough Bridge
carries= 8 lanes of I-278
crosses= East River, Harlem River and Bronx Kill
locale= Manhattan, New York, Bronx, New York and Queens, New York
maint= Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA)
design= Suspension bridge, Lift bridge and Truss bridge
mainspan= 420.62 meters (1,380 feet) (Suspension span)
94.49 meters (310 feet) (Lift span)
116.74 meters (383 feet) (Truss span)
length= 847.34 meters (2,780 feet) (Suspension span)
234.70 meters (770 feet) (Lift span)
487.68 meters (1,600 feet) (Truss span)
width= 29.87 meters (98 feet) (Suspension span)
clearance= 14 feet 6 inches (4.4 m), but trucks onbound from Manhattan are limited to 13 feet 10 inches (4.2 m)
below= 43.57 meters (143 feet) (Suspension span)
41.15 meters (135 feet) (when raised) (Lift span)
16.76 meters (55 feet) (Truss span)
traffic= 164,400 (Suspension span)
95,600 (Lift span)
117,900 (Truss span) [cite web | url= | accessdate=2007-05-05 | title=2005 NYSDOT Traffic Data Report: AADT Values for Select Toll Facilities]
open= July 11, 1936
toll= $5.00 as of March 16, 2008 (between any 2 boroughs per car in cash); discount available with E-ZPass
coordinates = coord|40|46|48|N|73|55|36|W|region:US-NY_type:landmark|display=inline,title

The Triborough Bridge, often simply referred to as the Triboro; officially named the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge, is a complex of three bridges connecting the New York City boroughs of the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, using what were two islands, Ward's Island and Randall's Island as intermediate rights-of-way between the water crossings. These two islands have been consolidated by landfill.

The bridges span the Hell Gate (a tidal channel of the East River), Harlem River, and Bronx Kill.


Plans for connecting Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx were first announced by Edward A. Byrne, chief engineer of the New York City Department of Plant and Structures, in 1916. While its construction had been long recommended by local officials, the Triborough Bridge did not receive any funding until 1925, when the city appropriated funds for surveys, test borings and structural plans.

Construction had begun on Black Friday in 1929, and the Triborough project's outlook began to look bleak. Othmar Ammann's assistance was enlisted to help simplify the structure. Ammann had collapsed the original two-deck roadway into one, requiring lighter towers, and thus, lighter piers. These cost-saving revisions saved $10 million on the towers alone. Using New Deal money, the project was resurrected in the early 1930s by Robert Moses and the bridge was opened to traffic on July 11, 1936. Its cost was greater than that of the Hoover Dam.

The structure used concrete from factories from Maine to Mississippi. To make the casings for pouring the concrete a whole forest in Oregon was cut down.Robert Caro, The Power Broker, Vintage, 1974.]

The bridge is owned by the City of New York and operated by the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA), an affiliate agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (New York).

At some point in the past, a sign on the bridge informed travelers, "In event of attack, drive off bridge", "New York Times" columnist William Safire wrote in 2008. The "somewhat macabre sign", he wrote, must have "drawn a wry smile from millions of motorists." [Safire, William, "A blind alley for No Exit", Safire's "On Language" column, "The New York Times Magazine", July 13, 2008]

On January 9, 2008, New York State Governor Elliot Spitzer announced his proposal to rename the bridge the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge, in honor of the former New York Senator Robert F. Kennedy. [cite news | url= |date=2008-01-08 | accessdate=2008-01-09 | title=Triborough Bridge may be renamed for Robert F. Kennedy |publisher=Daily News ]

On June 4, 2008, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy the New York State Assembly voted to rename the bridge in honor of the former New York Senator. Governor Paterson signed the legislation into law on Friday, August 8, 2008. [ [,0,463527.story Newsday article about the rename] ] .


The toll revenues from the Triborough Bridge pays for a portion of the public transit subsidy for the New York City Transit Authority and the commuter railroads. The bridge carries approximately 200,000 vehicles per day.

The bridge has sidewalks in all three legs. The TBTA officially requires bicyclists to walk their bicycles across, but the signs stating this unpopular requirement are usually ignored by bicyclists citing the very long distance of the bridge. Stairs on the 2 km (1.3 mile) Queens leg impede handicapped access. The Queens stairway along the southern side was demolished at the beginning of the 21st century, thus isolating that walkway, but the ramp of the Wards Island end of the walkway along the northern side was improved in 2007. The two sidewalks of the Bronx span are connected to only one ramp at the Randalls Island end.

The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority announced a toll increase on its facities, effective March 16, 2008. The cash charge for passenger vehicles to cross the Triboro will rise to $5.00 (from $4.50) in any direction. The toll for E-ZPass users will rise to $4.15 (from $4.00). The crossing charge for a motorcycle will rise to $2.25 (from $2.00), with motorcycle E-ZPass tolls rising to $1.81 (from $1.75). The return trip from Randall's Island to any borough is free.

The three sections of the bridge

=East River suspension bridge (I-278)=

*Length of main span: 1,380 feet (421 meters)
*Length of each side span: 700 feet (213 meters)
*Length, anchorage to anchorage: 2,780 feet (847 meters)
*Width of bridge: 98 feet (30 meters)
*Number of traffic lanes: 8 lanes
*Height of towers above mean high water: 315 feet (96 meters)
*Clearance at center above mean high water: 143 feet (44 meters)
*Number of sidewalks: 1

Harlem River lift bridge (NY Reference Route 900G)

*Length of main lift-truss span: 310 feet (94 meters)
*Length of each side truss span: 230 feet (70 meters)
*Length, anchorage to anchorage: 770 feet (235 meters)
*Height of towers: 210 feet (64 meters)
*Clearance of lift span above mean high water: 55 feet (17 meters)
*Clearance of lift span in raised position: 135 feet (41 meters)
*Number of traffic lanes: 6 lanes
*Number of sidewalks: 2 (1 on each side)

=Bronx Kills crossing (I-278)=

*Length of main truss span: 383 feet (117 meters)
*Length of approach truss span: 1,217 feet (371 meters)
*Length, anchorage to anchorage: 1,600 feet (488 meters)
*Clearance of truss span above mean high water: 55 feet (17 meters)
*Number of traffic lanes: 8 lanes
*Number of sidewalks: 2 (1 on each side)

In popular culture

*The Triborough Bridge is shown along with other aerial views of New York City during the opening sequence of the television series "Law & Order". Also, in a "Law & Order"-style introduction on "Family Guy", the Triborough Bridge is shown.
*On the final episode of "Friends", Ross attempts to go to the airport to prevent Rachel from going to Paris, and Phoebe drives him over the Harlem Lift Span as they head to JFK Airport. They also stop at the toll booth.
*Mitch Robbins (Billy Crystal) and his family drive over the bridge in the final scene of the film "City Slickers".
*The bridge is shown in several scenes of the film "Frequency".
*The bridge is seen in the films "The Catered Affair" and "Sabrina"dn.
*The bridge's Manhattan toll plaza is included in the 1974 film "The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three"
*The bridge appears in the video game "Grand Theft Auto IV" under the name "East Borough Bridge".
*They Might Be Giants have an instrumental song called "Triborough Bridge", although they have yet to record a studio version of it.


External links

* [ MTA Triborough Bridge site]
* [ Triborough Bridge historic overview at]

Crossings navbox
structure = Crossings
place = East River
bridge = Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge
(East River Suspension Span)
bridge signs =
upstream = Hell Gate Bridge
upstream signs = "Amtrak"
downstream = Roosevelt Island Bridge
downstream signs =
Crossings navbox
structure = Crossings
place = Harlem River
bridge = Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge
(Harlem Lift Bridge)
bridge signs =
upstream = Willis Avenue Bridge
upstream signs =
downstream = Ward's Island Bridge
downstream signs =

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