Sneak Preview: Stringer’s “Blueway Plan” for East River Greenway

The East River Blueway plan proposes an elevated greenway to improve connections for cyclists and pedestrians around the ConEd plant at 14th Street. Image: WXY architecture + urban design

Compared to its West Side counterpart, the East River Greenway needs some help. It could serve as a continuous waterfront park and a trunk route for bicycling on the East Side, but it’s hampered by missing links, poor maintenance, and the barrier created by the FDR Drive. Today at his State of the Borough address, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is unveiling the East River Blueway Plan, laying out a vision for the park from the Brooklyn Bridge to 38th Street.

Among the plan’s recommendations: replacing a pinch point on the greenway — the section shoehorned between speeding traffic and the ConEd plant at 15th Street — with an elevated path rising above the FDR Drive.

By the ConEd plant at 15th Street, the East Side greenway is an ugly, five-foot wide path where cyclists can't pass each other comfortably. Photo: Kim Martineau

A big-ticket item like the new bridge won’t be cheap, however, and so far there is no proposal for how to fund it. Stringer has pledged $3.5 million to construct marshland included in the plan, according to the Times.

The Blueway Plan, organized in 2011 by Stringer and Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh in partnership with the Lower East Side Ecology Center and Community Boards 3 and 6, is supported by a state grant dedicated to waterfront revitalization. A draft version from summer 2012 [PDF] identified neighborhood access and waterfront continuity as two of the project’s five goals, and listed places where park access across FDR Drive could be improved.

To the north, a 2011 deal with the United Nations has cleared the way for a greenway connection between 38th and 60th Streets, which would bridge the longest gap on the East Side.

Stringer’s final State of the Borough speech, where the plan will be unveiled, is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. tonight at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The bridge would deck over the FDR Drive at the pinch point. Image: WXY architecture + urban design
  • I used the East Side path (which I’d use far more if it weren’t so patchy) yesterday. I’m relatively new to New York City but in my now fairly extensive experience cycling round the city, I can’t think of a more dangerous “bike facility” than the way onto the path at 39th street. It requires one to pull across two lanes on a fast-moving freeway off-ramp to pull slowly into a narrow entranceway to the path under the FDR. The section by the Con-Ed plant is also comically poor.

    However, I will congratulate the DoT on its efforts to resurface parts of the path. For the part where work is under way at present, there’s also a well-signposted diversion – and no stupid sign telling cyclists to dismount and push. So there’s some kind of progress already underway.

    For the moment, however, I continue to use the Hudson Greenway for many of my journeys. It’s much the fastest safe way for me to cycle from home in Brooklyn to work at 6th and 54th. If the United Nations gap were closed and the East Side path otherwise improved, I’d switch to that.

  • Ian Turner

    This sounds quite nice, but there is no conceivable way that it is worth the cost. If the path is too narrow at 14th street, it could be widened on pilings (just like the Hudson river greenway) for much less.

  • Ben Kintisch

    That is gorgeous. And sure it’s expensive but if they have money for making waterfronts nice, make it nice, make it wide, make it wonderful. Hoo-rah.

  • Anonymous

    This idea looks great! It is fantastic that the east side is being thought of. 

  • Clarke

    Let’s just figure out a way to deal with the East River Greenway downtown link via Second Ave…which is just sharrows painted on high speed traffic lanes leading into the Midtown Tunnel. It is a total joke. (Uptown is okay 37th to 49th, where it is a protected lane, after which it turns into an uphill sharrow deathzone).

  • JC

    Drivers should bear the cost of this project

  • JC

    Drivers should bear the cost of this project

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