Bloomberg Says Car-Free High Bridge Will Be Open by Next Year

Mayor Bloomberg and electeds from Upper Manhattan and the Bronx at today's groundbreaking. Photo: @EspaillatNY

After talking up bike-share on the airwaves this morning, Mayor Bloomberg headed uptown, where he and other electeds broke ground for the restoration of the High Bridge.

The High Bridge is the city’s oldest standing bridge, and connects the Highbridge neighborhood in the Bronx with Washington Heights. Built as part of the Croton Aqueduct in 1848, it stopped carrying water in 1958, and was closed to the public completely in 1970. Its restoration is years behind schedule, but will be complete “by 2014,” according to a press release:

“In 2007, when we launched PlaNYC, our long-term sustainability plan, we committed to restoring and re-opening the High Bridge — one of our city’s great treasures,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The $61 million restoration of this this bridge, and its reopening to pedestrians and cyclists, will also open up new opportunities for communities on both sides of the river. It will bring people here from all over the five boroughs, and even all over the world, to see some of the most spectacular views in the city.”

The project received $50 million from the city, plus $5 million from Congressman José Serrano and $7 million in federal funds, according to the press release.

Unfortunately, in an editorial that pretty much takes credit for the whole project, the Daily News says the bridge will be topped with a much-maligned eight-foot mesh fence. Other items at issue during the public input process were bike access and park hours. An early plan called for the bridge to be open only on weekends, and only during the day, which would severely limit its viability as a transportation link. Parks representatives have said in the past that the city would make use of existing park trails and bike routes for cycling access, but it’s not clear what the current plan calls for.

We’ll follow up with Parks and flesh out the details in a future post.