This curious factoid popped up on my “woah” radar when The NY Times published this piece today about the Brooklyn Bridge banning vendors on its bridge among others:

New city rules designed to ease congestion on the bridge effective Wednesday will ban vending from this and all the city’s 789 bridges [emphasis mine].

I couldn’t believe it! There can’t be that many bridges in NYC! I fact-checked and found that NYC’s Department of Transportation website notes the same number with an addendum:

NYC DOT owns, operates, and maintains 789 bridges and tunnels [emphasis mine] throughout New York.

Ah, so tunnels are part of the equation (Bonus fact: NYC DOT managed bridges have no tolls across its entire system).

This still made me wonder, “So, what about the Lincoln Tunnel, Whitestone Bridge, and other bridges?” Turns out, those are not included in the equation!

  • The MTA runs these bridges and tunnels: Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge, Henry Hudson Bridge, High Bridge, Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, Queens Midtown Tunnel, Throgs Neck Bridge, Robert F. Kennedy (Triborough) Bridge, Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
  • The Port Authority runs these bridges and tunnels: Bayonne Bridge, George Washington Bridge, Goethals Bridge, Holland Tunnel, Lincoln Tunnel, Outerbridge Crossing.
  • And NYC Parks, NYC DEP, and NYS DOT also have their own bridges and tunnels they manage within the NYC metro area.

There is somewhat of an accounting on Wikipedia of those bridges and tunnels but it’s not as comprehensive as I’d like.

By the way, according to NYC DOT’s own Annual Bridge and Tunnel Condition Reports, as of 2021, there are 807 Bridges and Tunnels managed by NYC DOT (page 15, pdf). This is all inclusive of NYC Parks and NYC DEP’s managed infrastructure as well.:

If you’re curious (like I was), the full report contains a detailed list of every single bridge, tunnel, and culvert. That includes features such as a Bridge ID #, type, rating, and replacement cost. Oh, and here is the definition of those 3 terms in a NYC context (thanks GPT-4):

  • Bridges, like the Brooklyn Bridge, span physical obstacles (rivers, canyons) to connect different areas, facilitating traffic and transportation.
  • Tunnels, such as the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, allow passage beneath barriers (rivers, urban areas), crucial in dense urban landscapes like Manhattan.
  • Culverts in NYC are less prominent but serve to manage water flow, drainage, and prevent flooding, often unseen components of urban infrastructure.

You can go further and explore the data using NYC OpenData API feeds. It would be real fun to have an OpenStreetMap annotated with all the bridges and tunnels and culverts marked with their ratings.

To answer the question I initially prompted: By my count, including all agencies, there are 823 bridges and tunnels operating in NYC. Take that NY Times (to its credit, it did say “the city’s bridges” but, not to be pedantic, I’d argue NYC Parks and NYC DEP is part of that term).

It tickles my inner city nerd poring through these resources. It’s also incredible to see how much work it takes to build and continually run a city like NYC, a city that has a budget of $110.52 billion as of November 2023. Yes, that budget is massive and outstrips the GDP of countries such as Belgium ($627.5 billion), Norway ($546.8 billion), Austria ($526.2 billion), and Bangladesh ($446.3 billion) just a sampling of 94 countries. For a city of 10 million, that’s wild (and sensible).