What remained of the old Kosciuszko Bridge was blown to bits early Sunday.
Demolition crews imploded the span that’s connected Brooklyn and Queens for 78 years after lawmakers formally bid it adieu in a press conference that kicked off just after dawn on a crisp, cloudless morning.
A jubilant Gov. Cuomo counted down the seconds to the bridge’s demolition from aboard a boat drifting down Newtown Creek about 1,000 feet from the blast.
With an ear-popping boom that rang out for miles across Brooklyn and Queens, sections of the left and right spans of the bridge came crashing down with 944 coordinated charges that cast clouds of smoke hundreds of feet into the sky.
Before the bridge fell, Gov. Cuomo took a trip down memory lane recalling white-knuckled drives across the city with the first Cuomo to hold office in Albany, Mario Cuomo.
“I remember my father would drive us from Queens to Brooklyn to go visit our grandparents,” the governor said. “The whole way through Queens he was nervous and driving like a crazy man because he wanted to get to the Kosciuszko before there was traffic — except it was impossible to get to the Kosciuszko Bridge before there was traffic.”
The demolition allows workers to complete construction of the second span of the new bridge over Newtown Creek, scheduled to be finished by 2020.
Traffic on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway halted for five to 10 minutes just ahead of the 8 a.m. demolition, which was awkwardly called an “energetic felling” in advance of the explosion and promptly mocked on social media.
“An energetic felling. What does that mean? I don’t know,” Cuomo said to laughter.
“I think it’s a new politically correct term for implosion but they don’t want to say implosion because that makes people nervous so they say an energetic felling.”
In July, a 300-foot-long portion of the old bridge was lowered by cables onto a pair of barges and carted off to a New Jersey recycling center. The eastbound span of the new Kosciuszko Bridge opened in April.
An estimated 22 million pounds of scrap metal recovered from the bridge — named for Polish military engineer Tadeusz Kosciuszko, who fought in the American Revolutionary War — will be recycled.
With the sun rising behind his back, Cuomo struck a reflective tone, waxing poetic about New York’s progress and the future he envisions.
“You look around this city and ask yourself, ‘What makes New York New York?'” he said to a crowd of city representatives and neighborhood residents, many of whom will celebrate their Polish heritage in the Pulaski Day Parade later today. “What it was, was that our forefathers had vision, had guts, had determination and they built a place that was unimaginable.”
Cuomo — flanked by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, state Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Wahid Albert and Pulaski Memorial Parade Vice President Arthur Dybanowksi — challenged the city to live up to the legacy left by the city’s original architects.
“What have we done in the past one hundred years?” Cuomo asked. “We have to get to work rebuilding New York for the next century so that when our children grow up New York has the same energy and the same vitality.”