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Bicycling

Henry Hudson Bridge Walkway Set to Re-Open After Three Years

Pedestrians and cyclists should again have access to the Henry Hudson Bridge walkway this summer, almost three years after it was closed for construction.

A spokesperson with MTA Bridges and Tunnels told Streetsblog Monday that, barring further weather delays, work started on the lower deck of the bridge in 2007 should be complete by the middle to end of June. This will be welcome news for commuters and recreational users who were re-routed to the Broadway Bridge to cross the Harlem River between the Bronx and Manhattan.

"The Inwood Hill Runners are planning a celebratory crossing to Riverdale on the first Saturday of its re-opening," says Tamara Ewoldt, a running group organizer and Inwood resident who first alerted Streetsblog to the bridge closure two-and-a-half years ago. "The availability of this route will improve our safety because it will allow us to avoid running through traffic elsewhere. We have waited a long time for this and look forward to a modernized pathway."

Tangentially, when researching potential links for this post we found a 2003 New York Times article that recalls how the tolled Henry Hudson Bridge, constructed in the 1930s, came to divide Manhattan's last remaining natural woodland in the first place. In light of Pedro Espada's proposal to toll East River bridges but put no price on "free" Harlem River crossings, it's a story that still resonates:

Robert Caro's biography ''The Power Broker,'' published in 1975, outlines the characteristic [Robert] Moses ingenuity at getting things done. Moses was allowed to use free federal labor on ''park access roads,'' which is how he designated his highway through Inwood Hill Park. The park site also provided land at no cost.

Furthermore, the bankers who issued bonds looked skeptically on the prospect of a toll bridge built close to an existing free bridge, the Broadway Bridge. Thus, he was bound to the Inwood Hill Park route, even though it would destroy the ancient silence of the place, as well as despoil the sleepy neighborhood of Spuyten Duyvil.

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