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Monday, January 20, 2014

Talking Transportation: The George Washington Bridge

By Jim Cameron

Special to WestportNow

We’ve read a lot about the George Washington Bridge in recent weeks. And the scandal over who ordered closure of approach lanes from Ft. Lee, N.J. only underscores how crucial this bridge is to the entire region.  All of which got me thinking about the GWB and its history.

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Surprisingly, the George Washington Bridge was not the first bridge design to cross the Hudson River. As early as 1885 there were discussions of building a suspension bridge to bring the Pennsylvania Railroad into Manhattan at about 23rd Street.

A later design in the 1920s foresaw a double deck, 16-lane-wide roadway (with 12 tracks for railroad trains on the lower level) at 57th Street.

But it was in 1927 that work began on the George Washington Bridge much farther uptown at 179th Street. The $75 million single-level bridge carrying six lanes of traffic opened in 1931 and was widened by two lanes in 1946.

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