Installation of new Willis Ave. Bridge begins

A prefabricated, 350-foot-long bridge was being installed Monday to replace a 109-year-old span across the Harlem River.

The 2,400-ton Willis Avenue Bridge will connect Upper Manhattanand the South Bronx and replace the existing swing bridge.

The new bridge was built for the transportation department at aprivately owned port in Coeymans, near Albany. Last month, a marinetransportation crew loaded the finished span onto barges that werewelded together for the 130-mile trip down the Hudson River to adock in Bayonne, N.J. Two weeks later, the span was hauled fromBayonne 15 miles north through the East River to its finaldestination, where it was tied up to the shoreline near theexisting bridge.

The last leg of the journey was via the East River because theload's height, 82 feet from the barges' decks to the bridge's topcrossbeam, was too tall for the low bridges over the narrow HarlemRiver.

The new bridge is scheduled to begin carrying cars from the Bronx to Manhattan this fall. The old bridge will remain open in the meantime.

AP wire services contributed to this report

To find out how bridge construction might affect your commute, click here.

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