NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880/1010 WINS) — The final installation phase for the new Willis Avenue Bridge got started Monday.

A new 350-foot long span was built to replace the 109-year-old bridge that connects Upper Manhattan with the South Bronx.

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LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reports | 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports
PHOTOS: New Willis Avenue Bridge

“It’s not as iconic as the Brooklyn Bridge but it certainly is the work-horse of our bridge network, it carries 70,000 cars a day,” Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan told 1010 WINS reporter Steve Sandberg.

The new bridge was built for the transportation department at a privately owned port in Coeymans, near Albany. Last month, a marine transportation crew loaded the finished span onto barges that were welded together for the 130-mile trip down the Hudson River to a dock in Bayonne, N.J. Two weeks later, the span was hauled from Bayonne 15 miles north through the East River to its final destination, where it was tied up to the shoreline near the existing bridge.

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The last leg of the journey was via the East River because the load’s height, 82 feet from the barges’ decks to the bridge’s top crossbeam, was too tall for the low bridges over the narrow Harlem River.

“We have replaced or repaired virtually every single bridge in New York,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg told WCBS 880 prior to the ceremony. “New York City has close to 800 bridges, and the only one that is substandard now … is one ramp onto the Brooklyn Bridge,” which also was being worked on.

“So when everybody in the country is complaining about infrastructure, that’s not true in New York,” he added. “We’ve spent over $5 billion replacing or repairing every single bridge in New York City.”

The bridge should be open to traffic beginning in November.

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