Monumental Move on Manhattan Bridge
The long-awaited opening of the Manhattan Bridge's once bustling bicycling and walking path is set for June. This momentous event marks the first time in 40 years all of the East River bridges that connect to Manhattan will be open to bicyclists and pedestrians. The path's resurrection will attract riders from the Brooklyn Bridge who are looking for a more direct route and to avoid throngs of tourists.
At noon on Wednesday, May 16, T.A. is co-sponsoring a grand opening ceremony with the DOT to celebrate this welcome happening [note: the bridge will not actually be accessible to cyclists and pedestrians until June 25, 2001]. DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall is expected to attend as are other cyclists and pedestrians who wish to partake in this historic event. See www.BikeWeekNYC.org for more details.
In Manhattan, cyclists and pedestrians can enter the new path at the south east corner of Canal St. and Bowery. On the Brooklyn side, the path is at the north east corner of Jay and Sands Streets. The path on the south side of the bridge is designed for pedestrians, but will temporarily serve cyclists. The final design calls for a path on the north side of the bridge which will be designed for cyclists. It is scheduled to be completed in 2004. T.A. anticipates that the path on the south side will be fully ramped, accommodating all potential users including wheelchairs and cyclists not able to lift their bicycles up the stairs.
The Manhattan Bridge is an architectural masterpiece that has long been off-limits to cyclists and pedestrians. The bridge was opened in 1909 with bike and pedestrian paths on the north and south sides. The paths were well maintained into the 1940's and then fell into disrepair and were closed in the mid-1960's. Since 1985 the Manhattan bridge has undergone extensive rehabilitation and repair including replacing the south upper roadway, the addition of a truss stiffening system and re-framing the B,D and Q subway lines that cross the bridge. The opening of the path is a tremendous step toward the completion of this seemingly never-ending reconstruction project.
New construction-whether of roadways, water mains, or sewage treatment plants-is not always the most efficient way to upgrade infrastructure. "Improvements" on New York's East River bridges have actually brought declines in the number of people crossing annually.