What is the first type of bridge that comes to mind when you hear the word “bridge”? Do you think of picturesque covered bridges dotting rural roads? Or perhaps a suspension bridge like the Golden Gate Bridge or the Brooklyn Bridge? Or maybe that metal truss bridge is your favorite. A concrete arch? A railroad bridge? A new bridge like the Lake Champlain Bridge (a modified network tied arch)?
Long before I thought about bridges the way I do now, and long before I knew about historic preservation, I had a favorite bridge. The Great South Bay Bridges carry the Robert Moses Causeway over the Great South Bay, which separate Captree and Jones Beach Island (both are parts of Long Island, NY). When we saw this bridge, it meant we were getting close to Grandma’s house and soon we’d be driving on Ocean Parkway, which was always one of my favorites roads.
The Great South Bay Bridge is a cantilevered steel through truss. The two-lane bridge was constructed in 1951, and its three-lane sister bridge was constructed in 1968 in order to handle additional traffic. At that time both bridges began carrying one way traffic. The western original bridge carries the southbound traffic and the newer, eastern bridge carries northbound traffic.
I remember these bridges undergoing rehabilitation when I was growing up. On our trips to Grandma’s house we’d watch the progress; during construction the bridges carried both directions of traffic since the decks were being replaced, one bridge at a time.
I still love these bridges, as a driver or passenger or pontist (bridge enthusiast). They are a landmark to me, a nostalgic trigger and a beautiful part of the Long Island landscape. Now that I work with bridges and appreciate truss bridges, I have a new level of love for the Great South Bay Bridges.
What about you? What is your favorite bridge? And why?