Today is the last day for the Goethals Bridge which connects New York to New Jersey. The bridge, erected 89 years ago, is being torn down. Starting tomorrow, traffic will flow over a new bridge built next to the old one. The new crossing is the first bridge built in New York since 1931.
This development has personal significance to me. Fifteen years ago I almost died on the Goethals Bridge -- and I'm not exaggerating. Hit by a car while riding my motorcycle, I was thrown off my bike and ended up on the cold roadway with four broken ribs and a collapsed lung. As I lay on my back, I tried to breathe. I couldn't. I simply could not breathe. That condition seemed to last forever and I became increasingly alarmed at the fact that if I did not start breathing, it was going to be lights out. My mind focused with the intensity that comes when you face death up close.
Part of the reason I was in this accident was the bridge's poor design. It has two lanes each way with no shoulder. Traffic in the right lane is cramped by a waist-high concrete railing that offers no space for lateral movement.
I was riding home in the left lane after spending Thanksgiving in New Jersey. A young man in the right lane was speeding and suddenly realized his car was going going to rear-end and crash into the vehicle in front of him. Unable to veer right onto a shoulder, he veered left without looking. And I happened to be in that space on my motorcycle.
I spent a week in a Staten Island hospital and a month recovering at home. Fortunately I'm fully healed with no lingering physical effects.
I often think about what would have happened had I been unable to start breathing during my unplanned visit to the bridge's pavement. Instead of telling you this story, I would have been buried and quietly forgotten. Fifteen years ago blogs didn't exist and most of you who've met me here would not have ever known about me.
I'm happy to report that the new bridge has 12-foot shoulders, giving poor drivers a place to go when speeding and panicking.