Long Beach Bridge Construction Photographs
The original Long Beach Bridge, which opened in 1922, connected Long Beach to Island Park and spanned Reynolds Channel. It served the area well for many years, but by the late 1940s it had become outdated and overburdened. The wider vehicles produced during that time period necessitated the reduction in lanes from four down to three. In addition, the span had a relatively low mean high water clearance, which resulted in 2000 bridge openings a year to allow boat traffic to pass by. These factors, combined with increased usage as a result of the post-World War II population boom in the area, caused terrible bottleneck conditions on both sides of the bridge.
By the early 1950’s, discussions were underway concerning the construction of a replacement bridge to accommodate the heavy traffic flow problems. In 1953, Nassau County Executive Archibald Holly Patterson awarded a $5 million construction contract to the Merritt, Chapman & Scott Corporation of New York. J.E. Greiner of Baltimore was selected as the designing engineer. Construction began on August 13, 1953, under the supervision of Nassau County Department of Public Works. The east span of the new bridge was completed in May 1955, and the west span was finished fourteen months later.
The new structure was a bascule bridge with two parallel spans, each consisting of three lanes, and sidewalks for cyclists and pedestrians. To allow for a dramatic reduction in bridge openings each year, both bascules had 29-foot above-water clearances. To allow for more comfortable driving, the traffic lanes were widened to twelve feet each.
In 2002, The New York State Department of Transportation began a $16 million project for rebuilding the Long Beach Bridge. The superstructure was updated, as well as the abutments, the seawall, the approaches and the electrical and mechanical systems. The project was completed in 2004.
On March 26, 2011 (Medal of Honor Day), there will be a ceremony to rename the Long Beach Bridge to the “Michael Valente Memorial Bridge.” Michael Valente is Long Beach’s lone recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts in World War I. Since 2008, September 29th is Michael Valente Day in Long Beach.
The collection, which spans the years 1953-1956, contains over three hundred 8” x 10” black and white photographs of the construction of the Long Beach Bridge.