For 111 years, the double-leafed bascule Union Street drawbridge has spanned the Gowanus Canal. First opened in 1905, the movable bridge opens for maritime traffic, although it has not been called to do so for several years.
The city says the bridge is is in really bad shape and needs to be replaced. The community has the opportunity to choose between a moveable span and a fixed one.
A fixed span would put an end to maritime vessels accessing the canal beyond, and would definitely hinder cleanup of the Superfund site. It would also cause contaminated dredge materials to be transported in trucks through city streets and residential neighborhoods, versus on barges via the canal itself.
Said Joseph Alexiou, a journalist, historian and the author of Gowanus: Brooklyn’s Curious Canal to the Brooklyn Eagle, “I think it should be a drawbridge because it retains a certain fabric of the neighborhood, which we are increasingly losing. Also, it would allow us to keep some toxic waste from being trucked through a residential community and the streets of New York.”
Should the Union Street bridge be replaced with a fixed roadway? Should a new working drawbridge be built in its place? Sadly, I don’t see an option on the table for saving and restoring the historic span…
posted by Mai Armstrong for the Working Harbor Committee