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Crowdfunding / History / Transportation

Could a pontoon bridge across the East River be an L Train shutdown fix?

It would take just 90 seconds to cross the river over the floating bridge. But the L-Ternative Bridge is far from a sure thing at this point.

#OptionsInDE was the moniker for the First State's pitch. (Video by Short Order Production House)
Correction: The L train will be shut down for 15 months, not 15 weeks, as was previously reported. (2/27/18, 10:00 a.m.)
When the Persian king Xerxes wanted to cross the Dardanelles, the strait of water that divides the Anatolian peninsula from Europe, so that he could wreak almighty havoc on the Greek city states 2,500 years ago, he commanded his army to berate the water in a way that Brooklyn L train commuters might be able to relate to.

“Xerxes the king will pass over you, whether you want it or not; in accordance with justice no one offers you sacrifice, for you are a turbid and briny river,” the army said to the water, according to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus.

The newest idea for mitigating the impact of the April 2019 L train shutdown is to build a pontoon bridge across the East River from Williamsburg to the East Village. The proposal is called the L-Ternative Bridge, and the person behind it is model and real estate investor Parker Shinn.

“It would be capable of supporting two lanes for bus traffic and two walking/bike paths,” according to the L-Ternative Bridge’s website. “Construction will only take 6 to 8 months and the costs can be completely covered by a $1 toll.”

Where Xerxes used 360 anchored ships as floating pontoons, then laid ropes, straw and earth on a platform over top of them, Shinn’s project would use 30 deck barges, each 90 feet long, and each anchored by a 3,500 pound Delta Anchor.

Also according to the L-Ternative Bridge plan, there would be a drawbridge and an elevated portion of the bridge so that the many ships and ferries that travel down the river are not blocked.

Digital pedestrians traverse the L-Ternative Bridge. (Courtesy image)

Digital pedestrians traverse the L-Ternative Bridge. (Courtesy image)

There haven’t been many workable ideas for how Brooklynites will get around during the estimated 15-month subway shutdown. Last week the city announced it would add a ferry route to shuttle passengers back and forth, but even that would only make a dent.

The L-Ternative Bridge initiative looks to raise $50,000 on Kickstarter to help put together a formal plan to the city and the MTA.

Just, for what it’s worth, Xerxes’ army actually took two tries to get the bridge right. The first iteration of it was washed down the river. As a consequence, Xerxes had all of the engineers who built it beheaded.

Series: Brooklyn

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