Can We Kickstart our way out of L-Pocalypse with Pontoon Bridge?

A rendering of the proposed L-ternative Pontoon Bridge,, via Kickstarter
A rendering of the proposed L-ternative Pontoon Bridge, via Kickstarter

L-pocalypse looms just a year away, and the MTA doesn’t appear particularly interested in dealing with it, so New York residents have taken up the mantel of transit vigilantism, and moved forward with plans of their own. Last month Parker Shinn took to Kickstarter to drum up community support for an “L-ternative” Pontoon Bridge, which would run across the East River from North 8th Street in Williamsburg to East 10th Street in Manhattan. The Bridge would support 2 lanes of bus traffic, two lanes of bike traffic and command a $1 toll. It would also connect commuters to the Bedford Avenue L-train, and crosstown bus service along 14th street. 

Shinn touts Pontoon Bridges as useful transit alternatives because they are cheap and easy to build, and have ferried people across large bodies of water for over 1,000 years. He even sites an example of a pontoon bridge constructed by the Chinese military in under 30 minutes. The type of bridge Shinn has in mind also includes an elevated section to allow small vessels to pass underneath, and a draw bridge for larger boats. He estimates that the trip across the river would take 90 seconds between the Bedford L and the Manhattan shoreline.

The bridge would be made out of 30 90-foot deck barges. That’s where Greenpoint comes in. Shinn envisions that the bridge would be constructed around Newtown Creek, and each piece of the bridge would be floated into place and connected with the rest of the structure, creating, finally, a shore-to-shore structure. 

But shore-to-shore service is not all that Shinn has in mind. Also part of his project are a partially enclosed bus terminal on Bedford Avenue, and a temporary overpass above the FDR drive, which would keep current traffic patterns flowing.

Right now, Shinn hopes to raise $50,000 via Kickstarter to attract the attention of the MTA. The campaign ends Tomorrow, Friday March 16th. So far, he has raised close to $11,000. Will a last minute flurry of donation save the day? It could be, as we all know last minute solutions are de rigeur when it comes to NYC transit. 

About Lucie Levine

Lucie Levine is the founder of Archive on Parade, a local tour and event company that aims to take New York’s fascinating history out of the archives and into the streets. She’s a Native New Yorker, licensed New York City tour guide, and freelance writer with a passion for the city’s social, political and cultural history.

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