Caught by the Willis Ave Swing Bridge

Two weeks ago, I was on my way home when I realized that the Willis Avenue Bridge between Manhattan and the Bronx is built to let ships through. It actually rotates on a central post, which is even more interesting than a drawbridge, and as annoyed as I was by the added travel time, at least I got to see something worthwhile.

An NYPD Highway Patrol (car 5525)

You see, I was already upset because I got caught in traffic on I-287 West in Brooklyn and I was 45 minutes behind on my trip home. I was very upset because I found out that the reason traffic was backed up and 45 minutes was added to my commute was because there was an NYPD Highway Patrol officer parked across two lanes of traffic… for nothing. No accident, no debris in the road. Nothing. He was just sitting there to sit there. Like a jackass.

Anyway, as I went up the ramp from the FDR to the bridge, I hit standstill traffic. Then I noticed the flashing lights and the crossing gates dropping into place to block traffic on both sides of the river. Gas is expensive and I figured I might as well utilize the opportunity to see something new (to me) and interesting, so I parked, walked over to the side of the ramp and watched for a while.

The Willis Ave Bridge rotating.

There was a small group of pedestrians and cyclists further up, gathering at the gates. I also noticed workers in orange vests on both ends of the bridge, as well as leaning out of a door in the central support structure below the bridge.

The barge being repositioned to be pushed through the gap.

The bridge rotated and a barge was moved through the opening with the help of a tug boat. Looking down from the on ramp, I saw that there was quite a bit of construction going on. I wonder what that’s all about, but I think it must have something to do with an extension of the Greenway around the island for jogging, cycling, and recreation. The city has been working on that project for quite a few years and one day I want to do a full circuit of the perimeter of the island. Not that I’ve ridden my bike any time recently, but one day.

A look south at the construction along the waterfront. The arm of the Triborough Bridge that connects with Manhattan is visible in the background.

I was still aggravated at the lost time, but at least I had a new experience to show for it. Most of the time, traffic in New York City is bogged down because of bad drivers that cause accidents, or broken down vehicles, which is more forgivable. But it seems so pointless sometimes, spending hours in traffic. At least there are audiobooks.