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Delay Ahead: Queensboro Bridge Pedestrian Path Now Put Off Til ‘Early 2024’

Hundreds of people walked the Queensboro Bridge south outer roadway in 2020 to demand more space for people like them. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

Unacceptable.

The Department of Transportation quietly revealed at a Council hearing this week that it has once again pushed back the timeline on transforming the south outer road of the Queensboro Bridge into exclusive space for pedestrians — with the lane now slated to open in 2024.

Under questioning from Council Member Julie Won at Monday's hearing, DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez first blamed the previous administration for initially promising to create the space by the end of 2022 and then punted to a top agency official to explain why pedestrians and cyclists in both directions will have to share a single narrow lane for basically another year.

"We did the assessment [of the work] when we took over this responsibility, a new administration, and we saw ... it was not accurate, that previous date," Rodriguez said.

How we covered the story. Click to read.
How we covered the story. Click to read.
How we covered the story. Click to read.

He reiterated, as the agency has long said, that the opening of the pedestrian path cannot happen until the conclusion of a roadway project on the upper lanes of the 114-year-old span. The date of that roadwork keeps getting pushed back, even as demand for more cycling and pedestrian space rises.

"This is one of the bridges where we're doing the largest investment. It's work that you know is needed, it has to be done in that in that area," Rodriguez said.

Deputy Commissioner Eric Beaton then filled in some of the gaps.

"We feel very committed to turn that south outer roadway into the pedestrian path," he said. "We do need to complete that reconstruction work on the upper deck. ... The work will continue through 2023 ... and then we should open the south outer roadway shortly after, so probably in early '24."

Early 2024? Won, who previously called the end-of-2023 timeline "garbage" during a walkthrough with Rodriguez, was aghast.

"So now you're changing it to early 2024," she said, and referenced the original "end-of-2022" promise by the de Blasio administration.

In a subsequent interview, Won told Streetsblog that it is "unacceptable that DOT continues delaying the timeline."

"Every delay means more serious injuries from traffic violence," she added, referring to prior Streetsblog coverage.

She pointed out that during her last meeting with DOT officials in September, she was told that the timeline for the pedestrian space was still the end of 2023.

"Now, in March, it’s been moved yet again to the beginning of 2024," she said. "There’s an urgent need. The city must stop prioritizing cars over the safety of pedestrians and commit to opening the South Outer Roadway by the end of 2023, or earlier, as promised.”

The DOT declined to elaborate, referring to Rodriguez and Beaton's earlier comments.

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