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MTA Opens New Ramps Connecting Randall's Island to Queens and Manhattan via the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge

Bridges and Tunnels
Updated May 23, 2024 12:45 p.m.

Ramps Opening in Time for Summer, Months Ahead of Schedule

Vehicular Ramps to Improve Traffic Safety and Access to Recreational Opportunities

Crews Use Specially Formulated Concrete to Reduce Carbon Emissions


MTA Bridges and Tunnels today opened two new vehicular ramps on the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge that connect Randall's Island with Queens and Manhattan months ahead of schedule, just in time for the summer recreation season. These new ramps will replace decades-old ramps that featured out-of-date roadway designs. They will improve traffic safety and help to relieve congestion on the bridge, reducing pollution and shortening travel times. A reduction in traffic will lead to lower carbon emissions and improve air quality.

Crews further reduced carbon emissions by shifting to specially formulated low-carbon concrete after several rounds of intensive investigation. The formula used has a lower proportion of traditional Portland cement, and a higher proportion of high-strength slag, decreasing carbon by up to 24%. The formula used cures at a slower rate but officials determined the trade-off was worth it for the carbon savings achieved and that the cure rate did not impact project timetables. In fact, crews completed the project months ahead of schedule. The ramp from Queens to Randall's Island is opening five months ahead of schedule, and the ramp from Randall's Island to Manhattan is opening seven ahead of schedule.

“These new ramps are just another example of the MTA’s commitment to connecting New Yorkers and doing it in the most economical and sustainable way,” said MTA Chair and CEO Janno Lieber. “MTA Construction & Development worked with the contractor to deliver these new ramps at the RFK Bridge well ahead their original deadline and they will provide a safer and smoother traffic flow to better serve our customers for decades to come.”

“The MTA continues to use innovative techniques to build better, faster and cheaper and opening these ramps months earlier than scheduled shows that that this approach works,” said MTA Construction & Development President Jamie Torres-Springer. “The design-builder optimized ramp layouts, eliminated piers and minimized project durations using specially formulated low carbon concrete to help protect the environment.”

“These ramps will help traffic across the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge flow better and are a welcome addition with the beautiful spring and summer weather almost here and so many outdoor activities getting underway,” said MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Catherine Sheridan.  “New Yorkers and visitors from around the world now have improved access to everything that Randall's Island, the Queens and Manhattan offer.”

Both new ramps will improve vehicular access and safety and advance the 87-year-old bridge's state of good repair via the reconstruction of existing deteriorated ramps. The previous ramps between Randall's Island and Queens dated to mid-1960s, while the old ramps between Randall's Island and Manhattan dated to the original construction of the bridge in the mid-1930s.

The MTA worked in close partnership with the NYC Parks Department on this transformative design-build project to replace original deteriorated ramps and also facilitates a future reconstruction of Manhattan Plaza structure.

The design-build contract to reconstruct and relocate the Randalls Island ramps connecting to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge was awarded December 2022 to DeFoe Corporation, for $108 million. 

The Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, originally known as the Triborough Bridge, opened to the public on July 11, 1936. MTA Bridges and Tunnels' flagship facility, it was renamed after the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy in November 2008. Current average daily traffic is approximately 190,000 crossings.