Achievements Over Decades Reduces Collisions, Enhances Safety, Efficiency and Fortify Infrastructure Resiliency
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today celebrated the 90th anniversary of MTA Bridges and Tunnels, which operates and maintains seven bridges and two tunnels linking the five boroughs of New York City and is the largest bridge and tunnel toll agency in the United States. MTA Bridges and Tunnels was originally founded as the Triborough Bridge Authority (TBA) in 1933 by New York State to complete construction of the Triborough Bridge, which was renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in 2008.
In 1937, the agency’s first full year of operation, the agency recorded 11.2 million crossings, with only the Triborough Bridge under its operation at the time. Last year, the agency reported 327 million crossings – a nearly thirty-fold increase since its founding – and a record in surplus toll revenue of nearly $1.2 billion dollars to support the MTA’s public transit services.
MTA Bridges and Tunnels has made dramatic advances in operating efficiencies leading to greater traffic throughput, road safety, and customer experience notably through one of its biggest transformations with the installation of Open Road Tolling (ORT) in 2017. Since implementation of cashless tolling, average daily traffic through B&T facilities has increased by 7%, customer travel time has been substantially reduced, and the rate of collisions has significantly decreased.
“Joining Bridges and Tunnels around the agency’s 90th anniversary has underscored to me the impressive work which has been done at this agency,” said MTA Bridges and Tunnels Interim President Catherine Sheridan. “As an engineer, I’m excited to be leading an agency with infrastructure designed and built by some of the most significant bridge and tunnel engineers in history “I look forward to working with our talented team in maintaining our strong record and advancing future achievements.”
Following Superstorm Sandy, the agency performed extensive resiliency work to the Queens Midtown Tunnel, Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, Cross Bay Bridge and Marine Parkway Bridge. To highlight:
- At both tunnels, eight 44,600-pound flood doors were installed at tunnel entrances, along with new walls and reinforcement of existing walls
- For the Cross Bay and Marine Parkway bridges, electrical equipment and substations were replaced and elevated at new locations
- Around the Governors Island Ventilation Building, the seawall was reconstructed to be fully concrete and 13 feet higher than the previous one.
Many other restoration efforts also took place across the agency’s facilities including work to electrical lighting, pumping systems, and rehabilitation of the tunnels’ curbs and gutters to rebuild stronger, better, and more resilient.
Other significant milestones over the agency’s nine decades include:
- Introduction of the electronic toll payment system, E-ZPass, in 1995, of which approximately 94% of B&T customers use today
- The construction of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, which was completed in 23 months and timed for the opening of the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair at the new Flushing Meadows Park, now known as Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
- The 1964 opening of the monumental Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, which remains the longest suspension span in North America and links Staten Island to Brooklyn.
- Construction of a reversible HOV/bus lane in 2017 on the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge’s upper level, reducing weekday travel times for MTA express bus commuters and B&T customers.
- A newly built ramp in 2020 from the RFK Bridge's Manhattan span to the northbound Harlem River Drive that provided a direct connection and reduced drivers’ travel time by bypassing the need to travel through local city streets.
Timeline of facilities’ opening years:
1936 – Robert F. Kennedy, TBA's first facility, formerly known as the Triborough Bridge
1936 – Henry Hudson Bridge Lower Level, became part of TBA in 1941
1938 – Henry Hudson Bridge Upper Level
1937 – Marine Parkway Bridge
1939 – Bronx Whitestone Bridge
1939 – Cross Bay Bridge, rebuilt in 1970
1940 – Queens Midtown Tunnel
1950 – Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, formerly known as the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel
1961 – Throgs Neck Bridge
1964 – Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge (today’s upper level)
1969 – Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge Lower Level
MTA Bridges and Tunnels is planning further enhancements to customer experience and road safety through safety improvement projects focused on reducing congestion. Additionally, in coordination with NYC Department of Transportation, Bridges and Tunnels plays a significant role in improving regional mobility for bicyclists, pedestrians and micromobility users through Extending Transit’s Reach, through the MTA’s recently released Bicycle, Pedestrian and Micromobility Strategic Action Plan. At the RFK Bridge where the TBA began in 1933, crews are building a 650-foot long stair-free ramp connecting the bridge’s walkway to the Manhattan Greenway being developed on the Harlem River.