Parks Dept. Indefinitely Shutters Crucial Fort Washington Park Bridge On Nation’s Busiest Greenway

Access to the span has been prohibited since Aug. 24, inconveniencing thousands.

Thou shalt not pass. This key bridge on the Hudson River Greenway will be out for more than a year. Photo: Liz Marcello
Thou shalt not pass. This key bridge on the Hudson River Greenway will be out for more than a year. Photo: Liz Marcello

A key link in the uptown segment of the Hudson River Greenway has been out of commission for almost two weeks — and there’s no timeline for when it will reopen.

The bridge as been the subject of Greenway users’ ire because it has been in disrepair — and riven by holes above the Amtrak rails — for many months. Then on August 23, Streetsblog reported that someone — presumably from the Parks Department — attempted to patch it up with plywood. But the next day, the city announced that it had shut off access to the bridge completely so it could conduct a safety inspection “out of an abundance of caution.”

Parks and DOT say they are planning “immediate repairs,” which have yet to be scheduled, according to Parks Department spokesperson Crystal Howard. As such, the bridge remains closed.

As an alternative, the city wants commuters on the country’s most popular bike path to exit via 181st Street and ride on local streets on a steep incline. The closest place to reenter the park is 23 blocks south, at 158th Street.

On Twitter, Jesse Levin shared an alternative — and treacherous — route that avoids exiting the park but is mostly on a dirt path and requires traversing an emergency service ramp a 35 mile-an-hour highway on-ramp.

Others have not been so brave.

“I’m too scared to try. I’ve just been riding Riverside Drive,” said 186th Street resident Liz Marcello. “I have elderly neighbors In my building who had a daily routine of walking down to the river. And now they can’t. It’s so sad.”

A full-scale $5.7 million rehabilitation of the bridge has been in the works for nearly a decade, but just wrapped up design last month — two and a half years behind schedule. The Parks Department did not provide an explanation for the delays or a timeline moving forward.

The immediate repair work will be done by DOT, but it has not been scheduled yet. The Parks Department said it is not clear how long the work will take — any repair work has to be scheduled in coordination with Amtrak.

Hard to imagine the same scenario if this crucial roadway carried cars instead of bikes and pedestrians.

Update: Reader Kevin Krautle provided a little more insight into the route described above.

  • Alec

    for those biking from points south to the GWB, the new 151st Denny Farrell Bridge is an excellent alternative with a much easier incline due to several switchbacks.

  • JK

    OPEN THE BRIDGE! Streetsblog better keep the pressure on Parks or this crappy, but functional, bridge will be closed for years. NYC Parks is absolutely terrible at finishing capital projects and their management, via Riverside Park Fund, of their sections of the Hudson River Greenway has been abysmal.

  • Thank you for covering this. It’s hard to overstate the inconvenience this causes to bikers and anyone else (walkers, runners) who want to get down to the river from north of 181st Street, and the new bridge at 151st Street — though nice — is too far away.

  • Chriscc63

    this work around is very dangerous, it take you on a broken cement path to a gravel one, then heavily rooted one and finally a sandy section. You then have to carry your bike down stairs. The city should close the bridge unless they plan on actually fixing it.

  • DoctorMemory

    That’s effectively what they’ve done, and I assume that in fact they have no plan on fixing it any time in the forseeable future.

  • com63

    Cyclocross season is coming up. DoT wants us to train for this.

  • At the minimum the city should assign the landscapers to clean up the overgrown bushes around the alternate path leading to the bridge south of the tennis court.

    I will assert, however, that the steep grade of the switchback path from the closed railroad bridge to the green bridge at West 181st St & Riverside Drive, as well as the lack of lighting between Discovery Playground and the lighthouse, makes the uptown section of the Greenway “as is” more forbidding than it should be. We are not talking about quality biking infrastructure here.

    Additionally, for riders originating east of Fort Washington Ave, getting to the green bridge involves a detour in mileage and an extremely unpleasant and traffic-choked ride uphill along either West 179th or West 181st between Broadway and FWA. It is far less challenging to ride downtown on FWA to West 165th Street, then along Riverside Drive to the new bridge at West 151st Street.

  • Richard Vazquez

    Pathetic.

  • Ben

    haha man that dirt path is brutal if you have skinny 23/25 tires on your road bike. i would not do it again. i ended up walking part of it and just getting my cleats caked in mud.

  • KM

    I wiped out hard on this bridge earlier this summer. Glad the safety issue is now recognized but sounds like it could take forever before we have the route back

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Washington Heights Greenway Segment Re-Opens

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Hudson River Greenway detour signage is on its way out. Photo: BikeSeens/Flickr It took four months longer than expected, but here’s good news from the Port Authority, care of The Manhattan Times, regarding the greenway detour between W. 158th and 181st Streets: The pathway in the park near the George Washington Bridge has been reopened […]