Eyes on the Street: Hole in the Hudson River Greenway in Washington Heights

A tipster sent us photos of what looks like a sinkhole in the Hudson River Greenway just north of 181st Street, in Washington Heights. These shots were taken Sunday morning.

We asked the Parks Department when the hole might be repaired, and whether repair work would necessitate a detour. “We are aware of the situation and we have the area cordoned off for public safety while we assess the damage,” said a spokesperson, via email.

Greenway users, let us know what you’re seeing in the area of 181st Street.

Though it’s prime cycling weather, Parks has closed another uptown stretch of the greenway — from 133rd Street to 135th Street — until December, directing users to detour onto 12th Avenue. Parks told Streetsblog in May that the Harlem greenway segment was blocked so that a utility company could stage construction equipment.

  • Joe R.

    Welcome to a sample of what the roads are like here in Queens. OK, maybe not that bad but what our potholes here lack in “quality” is more than made up for in quantity.

    I might recommend a barrier with flashing lights until the hole can be fixed. It looks like the street lighting there is poor. At night a cyclist might not see that hole until they’re nearly on top of it.

  • Jesse

    You are absolutely right about that stretch. It’s very dark at night.

  • What this photo doesn’t show is that a few weeks ago this hole was a first just off to the side — it started on the edge of the grassy median. It recently opened up. Parks really needs to take address this ASAP. What’s preventing the rest of the path from giving way anytime? I’m sure DOT would be out there in no time if the hole was spreading toward the highway instead of the greenway. Also, the 311 system is not set up to report this, as my bf learned when he tried, because it doesn’t recognize the greenway as a street.

    And yes, they need lights on it — that section of the greenway is seeing more and more use, including evenings.

  • Mark Walker

    The Greenway in the 90s (the Hudson River Promenade) has been subsiding for years right next to the railing. Every spring the Parks Dept. fills the potholes, but they soon reappear, fill with dirt, and are rarely touched again until they give way completely. The whole thing is slowly falling into the river. It doesn’t help that cars are on the Greenway every day, not only from Parks, but NYPD and private motorists.

  • Anxiously Awaiting Bikeshare

    Well at least the hole fixes the car problem.

  • Joe R.

    Eventually they’ll have to fix things the right way. The cost of patchwork repairs will soon start to exceed the cost of just putting in a seawall or pilings. Maybe we should use some of the Sandy money for that.

  • I’ve never run into cars this far up. This area is not accessible to cars because of narrow ramps/stairs/steep hills.

  • Anonymous

    A similar cave in on the East River Esplanade back in 2010 was given an overnight temporary fix and quickly repaired by Parks:

    http://www.streetsblog.org/2010/07/30/eyes-on-the-street-sudden-collapse-in-east-side-greenway/

    Let’s see what the turnaround time is for this uptown cave-in!

  • This hole would be a nightmare if it weren’t Summer.

  • JK

    Maybe the next mayor can get 311’s website to take public reports about problems on greenways and park paths (other than glass), steel construction plates missing anti-skid material, abandoned bikes locked to racks, cars parked on sidewalks, parked in crosswalks, downed traffic signals and sign posts and about a hundred other things that now require a ten minute call to a 311 operator. It’s like the city doesnt want the public to report this stuff. Is that possible? (And yes, ditto Mark Walker, the Hudson greenway promenade from about 73rd to 83rd streets is clearly subsiding. Some of the steel manhole covers that used to be flush with the pavement are now sticking up two-three inches, creating an all new invisible night hazard for unwary cyclists and joggers.)

  • Kate

    I once called 311 about a hole this size just south of 181st street. I told them a child could fall in and never been seen again, and it was fixed the following day.
    Using the word “child” seems to make a difference!

  • Kate

    I once called 311 about a hole this size just south of 181st street. I told them a child could fall in and never been seen again, and it was fixed the following day.
    Using the word “child” seems to make a difference!

  • Kate

    I once called 311 about a hole this size just south of 181st street. I told them a child could fall in and never been seen again, and it was fixed the following day.
    Using the word “child” seems to make a difference!

  • Anonymous

    Should DOT take over Parks’ Bike Paths?

    Parks has serious
    problems with the major Bike Path Greenways. Parks has a tiny capital
    repair budget, and when problems like this cave in “pop up” Parks can
    only throw in a band-aid repair. Second, Parks formally treats these
    Greenways as recreation trails and not as critical 24/7 transportation
    corridors. The results are that cyclists are banned and/or ticketed for
    riding at night, because ALL parks are closed at night, and that Parks
    feels there is no problems from closing or blocking any part of any
    Greenway path for their construction convenience with no viable detour.

    A solution to these problems would be to transfer the bike path
    Greenways from Parks to DOT control and responsibility. These paths
    are designated on the NYC DOT Bicycle Map as Protected Bicycle Paths
    that run to and through various parks, often right alongside motor
    parkways under DOT control. Further, DOT manages the non-freeway park
    drives in Central and Prospect Park, providing pavement, signals and
    signs.

    The bike path alongside Henry Hudson Parkway northbound
    lanes was originally the sidewalk of Riverside Drive to Dykman St. When
    a wall collapsed on the inland side of the parkway a few years ago, the
    HHP was reopened in short order, and kept open while
    repair/reconstruction work was completed. DOT, with rare exceptions,
    finds ways to keep most of the highway lanes open to car traffic during
    construction. They find ways to stage the trucks and equipment not to
    block the roadways. Parks, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to care if a
    “recreation” bike path is closed, so contractors are given no orders or
    incentives for safely moving bike traffic alongside the work areas.

    If
    the goal of the these designated bicycle path Greenways is to move
    non-motorized traffic, safely and yes, in very pleasant surroundings,
    but to move people, then the paths cannot be arbitrarily severed, nor
    can they be closed at night, nor can they be allowed to decay into
    seriously unsafe condition.

    I therefore propose that Parks allows
    DOT incorporate the designated transportation bike paths through the
    city parks, to manage and maintain, just as DOT manages the motor
    parkways, as a critical part of the city’s non-motorized arterial
    transportation system.

  • Anonymous

    Should DOT take over Parks’ Bike Paths?

    Parks has serious
    problems with the major Bike Path Greenways. Parks has a tiny capital
    repair budget, and when problems like this cave in “pop up” Parks can
    only throw in a band-aid repair. Second, Parks formally treats these
    Greenways as recreation trails and not as critical 24/7 transportation
    corridors. The results are that cyclists are banned and/or ticketed for
    riding at night, because ALL parks are closed at night, and that Parks
    feels there is no problems from closing or blocking any part of any
    Greenway path for their construction convenience with no viable detour.

    A solution to these problems would be to transfer the bike path
    Greenways from Parks to DOT control and responsibility. These paths
    are designated on the NYC DOT Bicycle Map as Protected Bicycle Paths
    that run to and through various parks, often right alongside motor
    parkways under DOT control. Further, DOT manages the non-freeway park
    drives in Central and Prospect Park, providing pavement, signals and
    signs.

    The bike path alongside Henry Hudson Parkway northbound
    lanes was originally the sidewalk of Riverside Drive to Dykman St. When
    a wall collapsed on the inland side of the parkway a few years ago, the
    HHP was reopened in short order, and kept open while
    repair/reconstruction work was completed. DOT, with rare exceptions,
    finds ways to keep most of the highway lanes open to car traffic during
    construction. They find ways to stage the trucks and equipment not to
    block the roadways. Parks, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to care if a
    “recreation” bike path is closed, so contractors are given no orders or
    incentives for safely moving bike traffic alongside the work areas.

    If
    the goal of the these designated bicycle path Greenways is to move
    non-motorized traffic, safely and yes, in very pleasant surroundings,
    but to move people, then the paths cannot be arbitrarily severed, nor
    can they be closed at night, nor can they be allowed to decay into
    seriously unsafe condition.

    I therefore propose that Parks allows
    DOT incorporate the designated transportation bike paths through the
    city parks, to manage and maintain, just as DOT manages the motor
    parkways, as a critical part of the city’s non-motorized arterial
    transportation system.

  • Tom

    This hole’s still here. Not surprising, since there’s a sinkhole just south of the clay tennis courts in the 80s that hasn’t been filled for at least two years, another sinkhole on Cherry Walk that’s been there for just as long, and another that’s been “filled” with a trashcan on the East Side greenway next to Harlem River Drive (just south of Sherman Creek).

    Out of all those greenway sinkholes in Northern Manhattan, however, this is the one with the least clearance and the least visibility in low-light conditions. I’m lucky that I have a strong light powered by a dynohub that can get me through the unlit sections on the West Side Greenway (of which there are far too many), but there are not even any reflective cones or any sort of warning system for this hole. Not good!

  • The sinkhole was filled in with some dirt last week, and the barriers moved slightly to allow more room to pass, but this morning I noticed a new hole developing, and some new cracks in the pavement. With a strong rain storm coming tonight, who knows whether the remaining bit of passable asphalt will survive.

  • Daphna

    I hope you reported the new hole to as many city agencies and elected officials as possible.

  • Yak

    Summer is over and this hole is still unchanged. I ride by it every day. I have written the DOT and Parks department more than once with zero action taken. The past few weeks have been pitch dark yet still very busy in these warm evenings. An accident is sure to happen at this dangerous bottle neck. Two bikes cannot fit comfortably in the open gap at the same time. The other issue I have pointed out three years in a row is how many of the street lights are burned out here. 17 two years ago, 24 last winter and I will count again soon. Anybody, Everybody, please help draw attention to this hazardous stretch of this valuable transportation route. Let’s take advantage of election time and get it done.

  • crazytrainmatt

    This cave-in made it through the winter and now extends past the barricade leaving about path about a foot wide…

  • Yak

    …and it continues collapsing by the hour. Be careful here!!! I can’t wait until the stone retaining wall collapses and we loose the greenway and the highway. I wrote the DOT, Community board 12 and the Parks again this week. I finally got a short reply from CB12 yesterday saying they will look into it.

    Please try writing these people:

    Mercado, Daniel – Daniel.Mercado@parks.nyc.gov – North Manhattan Parks Manager
    Hoppa, Jennifer – Jennifer.Hoppa@parks.nyc.gov – Parks Administrator
    Blow, Debra – DBlow@cb.nyc.gov – CB12 member
    Garcia, Paola – pgarcia01@cb.nyc.gov – CB12 member
    Smith, Ebenezer – ebsmith@cb.nyc.gov – CB12 member (responded to me)
    Mitchell, Donna – dmitchell@dot.nyc.gov – NY DOT Administrator for Margaret

  • Joe R.

    This is a complete disgrace for a city like New York which claims to be world class. Amazing in the 10 months since this article was written absolutely nothing has been done.

  • Jonathan

    Hoppa supervises Mercado, Smith supervises Blow and Garcia (and they are not board members, they are staff). Suggest calling 3-1-1 to report, then call CB 12 with the confirmation number.

  • KeNYC2030

    If the hole were in one of the car lanes to the right rather than a bike path, what are the chances it would have remained unrepaired for 10 months, and counting?

  • ty

    On the highway? Nil. Somewhere like the iron triangle in willet’s point? Sure.

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