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NYS DOT and NYPD Security Overkill Could Destroy the Hudson River Greenway

Will the replacements for the obtrusive barriers installed on the greenway last fall leave sufficient room for cyclists and runners to pass safely? Photo copyright Shmuli Evers, used with permission.

The New York State DOT and NYPD could be preparing to mess up the Hudson River Greenway for a long time to come.

After last October's vehicular attack, NYS DOT installed jersey barriers at 31 locations where motor vehicles cross the greenway. At 26 pedestrian-only crossings, NYPD put down concrete "sugar cubes."

The greenway overflows with people during the summer months, and the heavy-duty barriers installed by NYS DOT and NYPD will only exacerbate the crowding problem. The barriers are meant to be temporary, but as the weather warms and greenway usage climbs, they're still there.

In March, NYS DOT indicated it plans to replace the barriers with less obtrusive security measures, with construction set to start this summer and wrap sometime in 2019.

The exact design of the new barriers remains under wraps. But it seems NYS DOT, at the behest of NYPD and the federal Department of Homeland Security, may install bollards with insufficient room between them to accommodate greenway traffic.

In a letter to Governor Cuomo, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul White called on NYS DOT to ensure that the bollards' placement leaves enough room for cyclists and joggers to pass. Standards for shared-use paths set by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recommend at least five feet between bollards, but sources who are keeping tabs on the project say NYS DOT plans to leave a clearance of only four feet.

"We are concerned that any long-term plan for hardening the greenway will endanger bicyclists and pedestrians if the permanent barricades or bollards used are spaced too closely together," White wrote. "We believe there is a way to insulate the path's users from the risk posed by motorized vehicles without increasing the risk of injury to greenway users, or ensuing litigation against the greenway's designers."

The existing barriers "created a crude, short-term solution" and should be replaced with "immediate short-term fixes" before summer, said White.

The TransAlt letter was also sent to Mayor de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, NYS DOT and DHS officials, and other local electeds.

The process for permanent greenway security measures has been shrouded in secrecy, with no opportunities for public input. “The people who are using the greenway have not had a seat at the table,” TransAlt spokesperson Joe Cutrufo told Streetsblog.

Neither NYPD nor NYS DOT responded to our inquiries about the project. We'll follow this story as it develops.

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