How ironic that a return of two-way tolling on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge coincides with the 56th anniversary of its opening on Nov. 20, 1964. This reminded me of other past transportation history that most have forgotten.
Design of the bridge did not include a pedestrian walkway, bicycle path or connection to the existing Fourth Avenue Bay Ridge subway line. The opening of the bridge in 1964 resulted in the subsequent demise of the 69th Street Brooklyn – St. George Ferry. Few remember the long-forgotten proposed tunnel between 69th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and St. George, Staten Island. The concept was to extend subway service from the Brooklyn BMT line to Staten Island.
Ground was broken with entrances at both ends in the 1920s, but the project quickly ran out of money and was abandoned to history. When living on Shore Road in Bay Ridge, friends and I would look to no avail in attempting to find the abandoned site filled in decades earlier. Flash forward 100 years later and we have the proposed $10 billion Cross Harbor rail freight tunnel project. This project is sponsored by the NYC Economic Development Corporation and championed by Manhattan/Brooklyn Congressman Jerry Nadler as his No. 1 transportation priority. After 30 years of lobbying by Nadler, the project has yet to even complete the federal National Environmental Review Process. Don’t be surprised if it is doomed to become a relic of history.
(Larry Penner is a transportation advocate, historian and writer who previously worked for the Federal Transit Administration Region 2 New York Office. This included the development, review, approval and oversight for billions in capital projects and programs for the MTA, NYC Transit, Long Island Rail Road, Metro North Rail Road MTA Bus, NYCDOT Staten Island Ferry along with 30 other transit agencies in NY & NJ).