A Sailboat Too Tall for the Roosevelt Island Bridge


Too early for a Saturday, a noisy helicopter circling the Roosevelt Island Bridge was the first sign. Out for a daybreak sail or extending a long night, an operator underestimated the clearance for his sailboat. It wasn’t close, about five feet off, and the miscue ended up tipping his vessel sideways into the East River.

by David Stone

The Roosevelt Island Daily News

All images and story credit: Sylvan Klein.

Early morning rescue operations underway as the Saturday morning sun rose over Roosevelt Island. It was successful. The operator was rescued, and his boat was too – “with minimal damage.”

In a story first appearing in the New York Post, we learned that a man was rescued safely. His boat had its mast wedged in metalwork under the bridge. Initially, the Post reported that the boat had sunk, but that’s not true.

It was eventually freed, the Department of Transportation said, “with minimal damage.

About the Roosevelt Island Bridge

The Roosevelt Island Bridge first opened in 1955 as the Welfare Island Bridge, becoming the first – and still only – vehicle access for the community. In 1976, it was renamed the Roosevelt Island Bridge.

It’s a vertical lift bridge that, except on rare occasions, remains lowered. Exceptions arise when specials special events restrict access to East River’s West Channel.

A Sam Ketchum $1 Mystery.

During U.N. Week, with security tight, many vessels come through, forcing periodic traffic jams as cars and trucks line up waiting for the center of the bridge to lower back to street level.

The Roosevelt Island Bridge is one of the few bridges in New York City that is not owned by the city. It is owned by the State of New York. It once stood out in brilliant Roosevelt Island red, but at the last repainting, deep thinkers in the DOT chose a strange purplish color that more closely resembles an impact injury.

The Roosevelt Island Bridge is important because it provides the only vehicular link to Roosevelt Island, home to nearly 12,000 people. The community depends on it for Fire, Police and ambulance services as well as routine traffic.

Before the bridge was built, the only way of getting vehicles on and off the Island was an elevator operating next to what is now the Roosevelt Island Tram Plaza. It was torn down in 1970.

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