March 18, 2014 By Michael Florio
The Hell Gate Bridge is likely to get a paint job—and there is also a strong chance new lights showcasing its architectural significance will be installed.
Councilman Costa Constantinides, who represents Astoria, said he is in discussions with Congressman Joe Crowley to fund these two projects. The funds for the upgrade would come from federal funding, since Amtrak oversees the bridge.
The revamp would come in response to advocates for the bridge claiming that it does not get the recognition it deserves.
They have been pushing to get lights added to the Hell Gate Bridge—upset that there are only a few sparse lights placed along the bottom. Furthermore, they claim the historic railroad bridge has only been repainted once in its 98-year history.
“It is in desperate need of a paint job… and lighting it up is important since it is an important part of the New York City landscape,” Constantinides said.
Antonio Meloni, director of New York Anti Crime group, which is the leading group behind the movement, said the bridge is treated light the “unwanted stepchild” of the city’s bridges.
The iconic bridge, he said, only has three lights. Furthermore, those lights are placed at the bottom of the bridge for boats.
He said there is a need for more lights, even for safety reasons. He said when it gets dark or foggy, it becomes difficult for helicopter and airplane pilots to see. However, he also believes it as a way to highlight the span, which is a local landmark of historical significance.
The bridge connects Queens to the Bronx by way of Randall’s Island and has a visible presence along the Astoria waterfront, as it looms large over Astoria Park.
The Hell Gate Bridge was designed by civil engineer Gustav Lindenthal and was the inspiration behind Australia’s Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The two strike a very similar resemblance, Meloni said. However, he added, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is well lit.
Meloni, who is also is a member Community Board 1, said he has received a lot of neighborhood support. He will bring this proposal to the community board meeting Wednesday.
However, Constantinides and other officials are already convinced.