BREAKING: Uptown Greenway Bridge Will Be Fixed, Starting Next Week

The key Hudson River Greenway link has been closed off since August 24.

Here's how the bridge looked when it was abruptly closed in August. Photo: Liz Marcello
Here's how the bridge looked when it was abruptly closed in August. Photo: Liz Marcello

Monday morning sure looks fine.

On Oct. 1, the Parks Department will begin repairs on a key link in the Washington Heights segment of the Hudson River Greenway — which was closed by the city on Aug. 24 with no repair or contingency plan in place.

But after pressure from Streetsblog and uptown cyclists, the Parks Department announced that it had finally set a schedule for repairs: The work will start on Monday and last approximately one month, pending “shift scheduling and weather,” spokesperson Crystal Howard told Streetsblog. Howard said the repairs will focus on “unseen structural support” and “the surface decking.”

Parks and DOT closed the bridge in August “out of an abundance of caution,” the day after Streetsblog called attention to its shabby condition. For weeks ever since, commuters on the country’s busiest bike path have been in the dark as to what exactly is wrong with the bridge, and when they could expect it to re-open.

Activists hailed the good news, but were confused why it took so long.

“It’s nice that they finally got repairs scheduled and will get on with fixing a bridge that has been in dire need of repairs for many, many years,” said Liz Marcello, a Washington Heights resident who co-organized a rally for bridge repairs last Sunday. “I’m happy they are fixing it, but I’m still wondering why it had to get to this point to get something done about it. It’s absurd.”

The upcoming repairs are merely a stop-gap ahead of a full rehabilitation of bridge, set to begin late next year. The $5.7-million capital project has been in the works for nearly a decade, but finally wrapped up design last month — two and a half years behind schedule. Parks has yet to determine whether the bridge will remain open during capital construction.

In the meantime, Parks encouraged cyclists to take one of two detours: a chip-covered path that requires traversing a highway emergency ramp, or local streets via the pedestrian bridge at 181st Street.

That route leads to Fort Washington Avenue, which typically looks like this:

  • crazytrainmatt

    The spasms of poorly planned investment along this corridor are really disheartening. I took the bypass path through the HH median on Monday and frankly it might be better than the usual steep ascent if something were done about the emergency ramp crossing and the rest of the path was cleaned up, paved and a ramp built to replace the tennis court stairs. But there’s no point in improving it if the waterside path could be extended down to the lighthouse. Yet no one is doing a cost-benefit analysis of the options.

    Another example is the project to build the ramp down to Dyckman at the northern end, which finished way behind schedule and you still have to cross Dyckman to continue north. Instead the vast ramp earthworks they built, it could have continued over the viaduct to the north side of the street and connected to an upgraded path on the east side of the highway, bypassing those amtrack stairs and part of the big hill in Inwood park.

    The HH bridge itself is undergoing the second multi-year closure in a decade, and we’re not even going to get a decent path despite the bridge having a one more car lane than the rest of the highway (three through lanes plus a breakdown lane vs. two through lanes north and three south, both with no breakdown lanes).

  • Joe R.

    I honestly think if not for Streetsblog bringing the situation to light this bridge may have remained out of commission for years. Good job lighting a fire under the Parks Department’s behind! It’s just a shame we need to advocate for repairs which would be done as a matter of course had this been car infrastructure.

  • redbike

    For many projects, what’s typically on the menu — Fast | Good | Cheap — choose two.

    Three examples of how to replace the bridge that currently spans the Ft Washington Park Amtrak cut Faster | Better | Cheaper than what DPR proposes:

    In Jersey City

    https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=18/40.71216/-74.05153

    the bridge that connects south from Jersey Av over the east end of the Morris Canal into Liberty State Park was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. Here are links showing the pre- and post-Sandy situation and describing the replacement completed in a matter of months for about $800,000:

    http://www.bridgesnyc.com/tag/liberty-state-park/

    and

    https://www.conteches.com/Knowledge-Center/Case-Studies/Details/slug/liberty-state-park

    Two other local examples are on the Putnam Trail in Putnam County where the trail crosses Drewville Road and — a bit farther north — the West Branch of the Croton River:

    https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=15/41.4003/-73.6943

    The spans were pre-fabricated, built off-site, and craned into place in a matter of hours. It took a while longer to add the decks. A small point, but it’s worth adding: the Jersey City bridge is decked with wood while the two spans in Putnam County are decked with concrete. IMHO, concrete is a better choice for the span in Ft Washington Park. What’s there now has unfortunately been victim to occasional vandalism.

    Faster | Better | Cheaper. What’s not to like?

  • AMH

    I hopefully read the headline as saying the bridge would open next week, being fixed by then. Better to say it will undergo repairs beginning next week, and will be fixed in about a month.

  • JK

    Do the Parks Commission or any top deputies ever ride to work? Do they get the amount of disruption they imposed on hundreds of cyclists because of their bureaucratic dithering and incompetence. There was no reason for this closure, which bizarrely came after new plywood was put over the most dangerous broken planks? Why does the Parks Dept seem to emanate at best apathy towards bicyclists and at worst low-key malice? Everyone wants to be sympathetic to Parks, but they are a truly crappy steward of the citywide greenway network. They neglect everything, lights, pavement, plowing and even simple inexpensive, things like pavement markings on the greenway to educate cyclists and pedestrians about walking on the side and riding in the center. If they care at all about bicycling it’s a secret.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    It’ll be fixed by the first snow. Then it’ll be a sheet of ice for a week until it melts or Parks finally gets around to plowing it.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    In this case they could probably even bring the bridge in on a train car!

  • Sierra

    I would also like to thank all the folks who came out on Sunday and talked to Liz and I and signed our petitions and got involved. Those numbers I’m sure helped, too! WE ALL DID IT!

  • redbike

    Yep, this is the best alternative. The biggest hurdle: Amtrak cooperation.

  • disqus_bjf7ncQCaj

    I love how a 10 year plan somehow doesn’t have an answer for whether the bridge remain open during capital construction.

  • disqus_bjf7ncQCaj

    Any update on this?

  • qrt145

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