This Greenway Bridge is Falling Apart — And Should Have Been Replaced By Now

After Twitterverse complains, the Parks Department finally patched up the span — but plans for a complete rehab have been stalled for years.

The Fort Washington pedestrian bridge has looked like this for months. Photo: Liz Marcello
The Fort Washington pedestrian bridge has looked like this for months. Photo: Liz Marcello

Talk about papering over a problem.

Hours after Twitter users kvetched en masse about the decrepit Hudson River Greenway portion in Fort Washington Park — a bridge that has been ailing for years — the Parks Department finally did something.

Not much, but something.

Greenway users have been posting photos of the sickly span for months, showing the top layer of wood peeling back, with fencing and an orange traffic barrel covering the most precarious spot. The bridge is visibly crumbling into the Amtrak tracks underneath it, but it wasn’t supposed to be that way. A rehabilitation has been in the works for nearly a decade.

Brandishing the photographic evidence, Streetsblog asked the Parks Department on Thursday morning why the $3- to 5-million capital project, first announced in September, 2009, was not done yet, especially given that the design process wrapped up last month, two and a half years late, according to the Parks Department’s online capital project database.

We never heard back, but this afternoon the bridge was suddenly patched up:

A
All fixed — kind of. Photo: Shane Ferro

One possible explanation for Parks’ swift action: The folks complaining on Twitter tagged City Council Parks Committee Chairman Barry Grodenchik, who asked about the location. Next thing we knew, the bridge was in slightly-more-decent working order again.

Problem solved…sort of.

  • Simon Phearson

    As with most city policy, they’re waiting for someone to die first. Who’s going to be the lucky one? Any way we can entice an attractive, white female tourist to the area? With children in tow?

  • crazytrainmatt

    I’ve been of two minds about this. Do they need to close the bridge for a year when they eventually get down to replacing it? That would knock out multiple miles of the greenway as there is really no detour.

  • Larry Littlefield

    And, as it is always worth mentioning when it comes to unmet needs here, as a opposed to anti-tax states where people aren’t willing to pay for public services — at the highest state and local tax burden in the country.

    https://larrylittlefield.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/sl-tax-burden.jpg

    https://larrylittlefield.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/ny-nj-tax-above-average.jpg

  • Greatest city on earth!

  • redbike

    Do they need to close the bridge for a year

    Simple answer: no.

    Do a web search for “prefabricated” “bridge” or “truss”.

    Unknown: how much time is required to first, remove the existing span; and second, repair / refurbish / rebuild the abutments. Inspecting the existing condition of the abutments (if done by competent engineers) should provide a generally accurate estimate of the scope of work required, but when the existing span is removed, there may be … surprises. Still, “surprises” shouldn’t take a year to resolve.

    Bringing a replacement prefabricated truss in by rail and craning it into place could be done in a day.

    Adding the deck could also be accomplished briskly.

  • Joe R.

    If there’s any one thing totally symbolic of how NYC views bikes, this is it.

  • com63

    Looks slippery on a wet day. Lawsuit waiting to happen.

  • Daniel Flanzig

    Filed a lawsuit two years ago due to a cyclist who spent two days in the hospital after crashing on this bridge. Got a call two days ago about another crash, with less serious injury. City has had plenty of notice about this deteriorating condition. Apparently marked for a capital improvement that has not taken place.

  • It has only really been bad since 2011 when there was a fire on the bridge one Saturday morning. I remember it vividly as the fire engine came up the hill from the bridge to take care of it. Before that there were no portable barricades necessary.

    I presume that in case of a full replacement, the next bridge further downtown could be outfitted with a temporary ramp on the west side of the tracks and used instead. Right now there are only stairs, but I believe that it is accessible on the east side.

  • Joann Gonchar

    I had a very serious accident here late in 2017. It really is, as Joe R. says below, totally symbolic of how NYC views bikes, and cyclists for that matter. We are disposable.

  • Andrew Cushen

    Now if only they would tackle the Cherry Walk section of the HRG, which is full of monster bumps (tree roots I would think) which are dangerous to hit at any speed, sinkholes, and dangerously inadequate signage/enforcement. No one seems to understand that pedestrians belong to the West (water) side of the green line no matter which direction they are walking, and that southbound cyclists belong just to the East of that, in the West half of the bike/skate lane. I have been yelled at by other cyclists for riding south in the correct lane, had northbound cyclists nearly hit me because they think they get the whole bike lane, and had to maneuver around northbound peds in the northbound bike lane while avoiding southbound cyclists. Not to mention the time I was riding south and one of those joggers did a 180 right into me without looking..

  • devonbanks

    Cherry Walk is abysmal and a decade overdue.

  • Tyler Hill

    I agree this needs fixing on all of the above. But who is responsible? NYC Parks? NY State? Everyone I talk to points me to someone else? Actually who, as in a real person, is responsible?

  • AMH

    I’ve submitted an annual complaint to Parks each Spring, and get either no response or a “waiting for funds to become available”.

  • Andrew Cushen

    How much would it really cost to just clear up the markings? [Sigh.] How are you complaining to Parks? Email? Website? I’ll add my voice too.

  • Daphna

    As of Monday evening August 27, 2018 this bridge is closed indefinitely. The Parks Department put out metal crowd control barriers and tightly chained them together and to fencing at the sides, so the only way through is over, bike and all.

    Parks Department said that the bridge needs to be inspected by the DOT. The date of the inspection is unknown. Parks Department said that fixing the bridge requires cooperation between Amtrack, DOT and Parks Dept. and indicated that because of the need for multi-agency cooperation, it will take a very long time.

    No alternative was given except to exit at 159th Street which requires carrying one’s bike.

  • Daphna

    Some sections of the Greenway are the state and some sections are the city. The Cherry Walk section is the city, so NYC Department and Parks and Recreation is responsible.

  • AMH

    I’ve used 311 and emailed the commish: https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/home/mail/html/maildpr.html

  • Daphna

    Thank you for this information and for those two graphs.

  • pfrishauf

    Outrageous that it is closed. Make a stink! https://twitter.com/pfrishauf/status/1034966460089683968?s=12

  • DoctorMemory

    Start the betting pool now:

    I say it re-opens in January…2023.

  • Andrew

    Optimist.

  • pfrishauf

    Is anyone out there doing anything about this?

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG