New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that the DEC’s Artificial Reef Program recently deployed parts of the old City Island Bridge in the Bronx on the Hempstead Reef to enhance local fishery habitat as part of Governor Cuomo’s initiative to significantly expand New York’s network of artificial reefs. The state’s program is designed to build a stronger, more diverse marine ecosystem and provide shelter for fish and other marine life off New York’s shores in an effort to expand recreation and tourism opportunities.

“These concrete and steel bridge materials will enhance the local marine habitat and fishery populations, benefitting both anglers and divers frequenting New York’s artificial reefs,” Commissioner Seggos said. “Governor Cuomo recognizes that expanding Long Island’s artificial reefs is an innovative way to reuse materials for the benefit of the environment and our economy. I commend DEC’s marine resources staff for their work in this ongoing, historic reef expansion effort."

The original City Island Bridge was built in 1901, crossed Eastchester Bay in the Bronx, and was decommissioned in 2015, after the replacement bridge was built. The state procured the bridge materials through a partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation and the Tutor-Perini Corporation, the contracting firm that deconstructed the old bridge and built the new overpass.

Under DEC guidance, the City Island Bridge project deployed a total of 47 concrete-filled steel caissons measuring up to 34 feet in length that once supported the original bridge. These concrete and steel bridge materials are similar to the Tappan Zee Bridge materials deployed on Hempstead Reef under Governor Cuomo’s Artificial Reef Initiative’s earlier this year.

“I thank both the NYC DOT and the Tutor-Perini Corporation for their collaboration in this project and in helping to secure these materials for an innovative and creative use that would have otherwise seen them end up in a landfill,” Commissioner Seggos said.

As directed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in April, and with unprecedented, multi-agency coordination, recycled materials from the State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), New York Power Authority (NYPA), Canal Corporation, and the Thruway Authority are being put to new use and helping to develop New York’s artificial reef sites.

Construction of New York’s first artificial reef dates back to 1949, and the Governor’s expansion initiative is the state’s first coordinated effort to stimulate the full environmental and economic benefits of artificial reefs. The artificial reef expansion will increase the variety of reef habitat on these sites, expand the biodiversity of fish and crustacea, promote environmental sustainability, and boost Long Island’s recreational fishing, sport fishing, and diving industries.

DEC manages the state’s 12 artificial reefs, which include two reefs in Long Island Sound, two in the Great South Bay, and eight in the Atlantic Ocean.

In May, the Governor announced the inaugural deployment at Shinnecock Reef, which included recycled materials from the Tappan Zee Bridge project, DOT, NYPA, and Canal Corporation. State agencies began deploying barges of Tappan Zee Bridge recycled materials and decommissioned vessels cleaned of contaminants. In July, deployments were made at Smithtown and Rockaway reefs, and deployments were made on Hempstead Reef and Moriches Reef in August. Additional materials were deployed to Fire Island Reef in October.

New York’s marine resources are critical to the state’s economy, supporting nearly 350,000 jobs and generating billions of dollars through tourism, fishing and other industries. More than 500,000 anglers in the region will reap the benefits of the Governor’s initiative, supporting the region’s growing marine economy which accounts for approximately 9.7 percent of Long Island’s total GDP. Visit DEC’s website for more information about the Artificial Reef Program. A map, site coordinates and additional information on New York State’s Artificial Reefs (PDF, 915 KB) are available to plan trips to a New York State reef site.