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Gowanus Expressway: History of a highway

Brooklyn Daily

The Gowanus Expressway runs 6.1-miles from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, linking Brooklyn to Staten Island. Dreamed up by master builder Robert Moses in the late 1930s, the highway has proved controversial since it opened to drivers 70 years ago. Now, the state is half-way through an 11-year “interim” repair of the notoriously congested road. Here’s a breakdown of the expressway’s history, and statistics on the current repair project:

1939: Construction starts.

1941: Four-lane expressway opens.

1961: Expressway widened to six lanes.

1996: Public demands a tunnel option when state announces it plans to replace the decrepit highway.

2005: State begins the on-going $680-million repair project, which involves:

• 164 million pounds of concrete to replace the highway’s aging deck.

• 20,000 feet of resurfaced concrete.

• 4,600 feet of resurfaced asphalt.

• 400 new light poles.

2011: Federal government cans plans to replace the highway, promising it won’t collapse.

— Daniel Bush

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at

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