Serving pedestrian, roadway and marine commuters alike, the Harlem River Lift Span is an integral part of the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, which has provided critical connectivity to three of the five boroughs of New York City while providing waterway passage on the Harlem River for nearly a century.

Working alongside New York’s MTA Bridge and Tunnels as lead designer for the design-build team, HNTB provided mechanical, electrical and structural engineering services. The firm also developed comprehensive rehabilitation solutions to ensure the bridge continues to provide decades more of reliable service to the community and improve safety and access. Services included electrical and mechanical system upgrades, installation of a new standby generator, design documentation and safety enhancements.

HNTB’s design-build delivery team also strived for innovation, creativity and outside-the-box thinking throughout the design development. Key innovations included replacing the specified automatic lubricating system for the main and auxiliary counterweight guides with lubrication-free guides made with solid engineered nylon polymer. Rather than taking the bridge out of service to replace four rack-pinion gears, the team was able inspect, assess and recondition all eight pinions to provide an additional 20-year life.

Furthermore, the design-build process allowed the design-build team and all stakeholders to collaborate before and during the construction to progress the project as quickly and efficiently as possible, maximizing best value to dollar spent. In turn, the proposed 3-year construction schedule to be reduced to 24 months and completed in 19 months.

Location: New York, NY

Client: MTA Bridges and Tunnels (MTAB&T)

Services: Lead design, structural, mechanical and electrical engineering

Awards: Award of Merit Excellence in Safety, ENR; National Award – Merit, DBIA