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RFK Bridge Manhattan Approach Ramps Reconstruction

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The Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (RFK) was built in 1936 and consists of three bridge structures and two toll plazas. The bridge also includes elevated viaducts and a junction structure, which facilitate traffic distribution between three boroughs. The three bridges are the East River Suspension Span, the Harlem River Lift Span, and the Bronx Kill Truss. The RK-23a project involves the study and design for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Manhattan approach ramps on the RFK Harlem River Lift Span. The project studied rehabilitation alternatives and involved complete replacement of the concrete cellular portions of the on- and off-ramp structures and replacement of the roadway deck on the steel portions of the structures.

The steel portion of the ramp structures were analyzed for compliance with current seismic requirements. A unique solution was developed for the structure to resist current seismic loading by use of a “floating deck” whereby the deck and stringer system is isolated from the subframing and slender steel rigid-frame columns. This system also resulted in the removal of the majority of the existing expansion joints, thereby creating a more maintenance-free structure. 

The project also included replacement of deck joints, barriers, lighting, drainage and utilities such as power and telecommunications. Improvements to overall ramp geometry and configuration were also included in order to enhance traffic flow and correct safety-related defects. Temporary ramp structures and staged construction were used to maintain traffic during construction. 

This first-ever major rehabilitation project for the Manhattan ramps of the RFK Bridge will serve the community well for years to come. As a testament to the success of this project, it has received the 2018 "Prize Bridge Award" (Reconstructed Category) from the National Steel Bridge Alliance (NSBA) and the 2019 "Outstanding Rehabilitated Bridge Award" from the ABCD Susquehanna Chapter. 

Bridge Geometry
Length of Main Span 60 Feet (Typical)
Total Project Length 800 feet
Lanes on Structure Two lanes, two sidewalks

The earlier than anticipated ramp reopening is a welcome milestone in this project, which is part of the multi-year $1 billion Capital Program investment in our flagship 80-year-old bridge.

-Donald Spero, President , MTA Bridges and Tunnels