The eastern segment connecting the Wards Island viaduct with Astoria, Queens was envisioned by original designer Arthur I. Perry as a dual-deck, 16-lane roadway supported by four suspension cables. When Amman came on board, he scaled back the design to a single eight-lane, truss-stiffened deck with two 3,104-foot long suspension cables hanging from two 315-foot-tall, 5,500-ton steel towers. Amman's modifications permitted use of foundations that had been constructed in the initial phase of construction while shaving $10 million off the budget.
The 1,380-foot main span hangs 135-feet over mean high water. The two 20-inch diameter cables each contain 37 strands, with each strand composed of 248 galvanized steel wires around 1/5th of an inch thick. The structure is unique in that the cables bend an unusually high 45 degrees at the anchorage bent posts, placing more of the load downward on the anchorages than is customary. The 20-foot-deep stiffening trusses surround the roadway on the main deck and obscure motorist views of the river and city, but the pedestrian walkway hangs over the river from the top outer edge of the truss, providing both exceptional views of the river and comforting separation from the traffic whizzing by below.
Lamp posts and other ornamental features (such as the tiered tips of the towers) reflect the Art Deco aesthetic of the 1930s. The four vertical posts between the legs of each tower are ornamental and have no structural purpose. When I visited in 2008, the bridge was undergoing a much needed dehumidification and renovation of the anchorages and a reanchoring of the cable strands.
Next: Triboro Bridge: Fixed Truss Span